Safe at Home

McAuley is leading a project to examine what more can be done to further an approach called ‘Safe At Home.’

‘Safe at home’ would mean that wherever possible, women and children are able to stay in their homes after family violence, while perpetrators are the ones who must leave.

In the more traditional situation, victim-survivors end up with all the disadvantages of having to leave their homes to be safe from violence. We know that when they do so, they leave behind friends, family, neighbours. Their children’s schooling is disrupted. They have to leave jobs unexpectedly. They can begin to struggle financially with only one income, and all the costs of moving and relocating. And with housing in short supply and so unaffordable, they often end up couch-surfing, staying in a whole series of emergency motels, living in cars, or homeless.

For all these reasons McAuley began a ‘Safe At Home’ advocacy project to ensure that leaving family violence doesn’t become a step towards homelessness.

This project directly relates to Recommendation 13 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

‘The Victorian Government give priority to supporting victims in safely remaining in, or returning to, their own homes and communities through the expansion of Safe at Home–type programs across Victoria. These programs should incorporate rental and mortgage subsidies and any benefits offered by advances in safety devices, with suitable case management as well as monitoring of perpetrators by police and the justice system.’

After 5 years of investment, the system is slowing coming together as intended. ‘Flexible Support Packages’ and ‘Personal Safety Initiatives’ are examples of options now available to support women and children who can stay home. But, in the midst of so much work, women and children continue to turn up in homelessness services because they’ve left family violence and we don’t want to lose sight of prioritising keeping victim survivors safe in their home. It’s clear there is a lot more work to do.

For women and children to be genuinely be able to choose to stay and be safe at home, there will need to be change in many systems, so this project has brought together Victoria Police, Magistrates’ Courts, Family Violence and Homelessness peak bodies, SafeSteps, No To Violence, Government departmental representatives from Family Safety Victoria, and university researchers who have been looking at this issue.

This bank of knowledge has enabled McAuley to put together a proposal for how a ‘Safe at Home’ model would operate in Victoria.

Read more from McAuley CEO about why McAuley has initiated this work.

‘Safe at Home’ research

McAuley consulted with women who have used our services, who have become homeless because of family violence. This gave us valuable information about what really happens on the ground and where things aren’t working well – as well as whether being able to stay home safely could have been an option. Read more about: Listening to those with lived experience.

Together with Melbourne University we also interviewed frontline workers in family violence and homelessness services, gathering a wealth of insights into how the system was operating. Read what this research found. 

Parity April 2023

In a special edition of Parity, the journal of the Council to Homeless Persons, explored the issue and canvassed solutions. McAuley was a sponsor of the edition and contributed several articles.

Listening to those with lived experience

‘It’s in McAuley’s DNA’: opinion piece by Jocelyn Bignold OAM

‘The time if right’: re-imagining ‘Safe at Home’



For further information on the ‘Safe at Home’ project, contact:

In 2021-2022 family violence was the leading cause of homelessness in Victoria.

presented to homelessness services because of family violence


of women presenting had experienced family violence

victim-survivors in emergency motel accommodation each night


after staying in motels because of family violence end up in homelessness services