Federal Parliament - Domestic & family violence

03 June 2021

Dr ALY: Can I start by commending the member for Eden-Monaro on continuing the conversation about domestic violence in this Chamber. I think she gave a wonderful speech just then, outlining just how dire the situation is. I also rise to speak about the dire situation for Cowan constituents. Many of them are single mothers or mothers escaping domestic violence who have found themselves homeless as we see soaring rents and a lack of housing availability and housing affordability throughout Western Australia.

I particularly want to speak about the case of Mrs X, who has four children—one with a disability. She fled an abusive relationship. She and her children were previously put up by a not-for-profit organisation that provided housing to women fleeing abusive relationships, but this organisation was so overstretched that they had to evict her and her four children. The children are now temporarily back with the abusive ex-partner, which of course is not ideal, but what is even worse is that he tells her that she is not allowed to care for the children in the home. So she spends the day with the children in the home, and then at night he forces her to go and sleep in the park. So this mother of four, who has a child with a disability and who fled an abusive partner, is sleeping in the park at night because she has nowhere to go. The charities in Cowan, who do a wonderful job, have provided her with a sleeping bag, a light mattress, some food and toiletries, but of course none are waterproof and none are warm enough to keep her safe at night. She's been allowed to shower in recreation centres, which are about 20 minutes away. The not-for-profit that is helping her now has no relief money to put her up anywhere.

This is just one story. There are many other stories like this, sadly, throughout Western Australia and within my own electorate of Cowan. I pay heed to the charities that are doing their best but simply can't hope. I really want to take this opportunity to urge the government to consider the plight of people, families, women and children who find themselves in this situation and really put their minds to investing in social housing so that these women have someplace to go. Like the member for Eden-Monaro said, enough is enough. It's not just about stopping the violence. That's the start, but we also have to look after those who are fleeing violence and need somewhere to go.