Homelessness and Domestic Violence in Australia

Homelessness in Australia

At any given night in Australia, there are more than one hundred and five thousand people who are homeless. Homeless people are those individuals who do not have regular dwelling places or houses due to their inability to afford them. In Australia, a person is described as homeless if he or she lacks secure, safe and tolerable housing or if the structure he/she refers to as his/her house damages or stands a chance of risking one’s health.

In addition, the availability of circumstances, which serve to threaten or that adversely affect the safety, adequacy, affordability or security of one’s home qualifies him or her to be considered as homeless. The large cities of Australia such as Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane harbor the highest population of the homeless (Wendt, 2009, p. 56).

Causes of Homelessness in Australia

The causes of homelessness in Australia can be grouped into socio-economic factors, social exclusion and individual issues.

The Socio-Economic Factors

Under the socio-economic factors, people are rendered homeless due to factors such as unemployment, poverty, poor education, deinstitutionalization, unaffordable housing and housing undersupply. Other contributing factors include changes to family structures and relationship breakdown, discrimination by the landlord, limited access to public housing, barriers to the access of services and lack of coordination between housing agencies. These factors are normally beyond the control of the victims (Martijin & Sharpe, 2009, p. 82).

An outstanding description of homelessness is the lack of secure and affordable housing. This is occasioned by the sudden rise in the amount of rent paid to landlords by tenants and the increase in land rates, which results in huge financial pressure to households. Moreover, the available housing units are found in short supply. This in essence discourages people from leaving the crisis services. In addition, the community and public housing units across Australia fail to provide adequate housing units for Australians (Edith Cowan University, n.d.a, p. 3).

The issue of homelessness in Australia is increasingly on the rise due to the rise in mortgage payments necessitating mortgage foreclosures. Without a doubt, this country has the most reasonably priced housing services globally. On a special and critical issue, lack of affordable housing results into overcrowding, which in turn contributes to household and relationship strain. The risks associated with this include stress, poor health and well being and the ultimate homeliness (Martijin & Sharpe, 2009, p. 7; Lin, Smith, & Sally, 2007, p. 17).

The Social Exclusion

The social exclusion factors include issues such as family and domestic violence, lack of resources and personal capacity for an individual to establish a home and physical, social and emotional abuse. Other issues include the unavailability of social networks, congestions, stress and persistent conflicts and stress within families due to adhesiveness in families and low levels of social attachment. Lack of education, employment and the knowledge of the existence of resources are also other contributing factors (McMurray, 2007, p.118).

Both family and domestic violence are major contributory factors to homelessness in Australia. Violence can be caused by a number of complex factors at various levels such as society, community, family, at the level of an individual. The most affected victims of domestic and family violence are women and children. Due to the shortages in the stock of the houses available, some victims of this kind of violence are forced to return to the homes where they came from for the fear of becoming homeless (Crane & Brannock, 2010).

The Individual Issues

The individual issues that contribute to homelessness in Australia include alcoholism and substance abuse, disability, poor life skills, criminality, mental illness and one’s choice. The available reports indicate that the number of people seeking financial aid in Australia have hugely increased over the past few decades (Minney & Greenhalgh, 2007, p. 649).

Similarly, people who are mentally retarded find it a big challenge to find secure housing and accommodation across Australia. Therefore, the majority of the mentally ill patients are homeless in Australia. The results of various studies conducted in the recent past show that the homeless Australians have a four times higher tendency of developing mental disorders as compared to people living in the safety and security of their homes.

Another important group of the homeless that should be considered is those who leave the prisons or the juvenile justice institutions and mix with other people. In many cases, these people are subjected to a lot of stigmatization and discrimination prompting them to leave their homes for the streets. This has also prompted poor access to financial institutions for help in the establishment of homes (Day, 2009, p. 142).

The Risk Factor of Homelessness

Some of the risk factors associated with homelessness include housing stress that is accused by high costs of living, mortgage fees and eviction. Some other factors include legal problems, falling under the indigenous ethic groups, historical injustices and family conflicts. Moreover, the use of personal factors can contribute to enhancing homelessness. Such incidents include limited life skills, sexual abuse and poor financial literacy. However, the response to these needs by the government agencies only happens to worsen things (Australian Government, 2009, p. 1).

Homelessness in Australia continues to rear its ugly head by day thatpasses.105, 000 victims of homelessness is not a paltry figure. Of all the reasons behind the rapid increase in this number, the high cost of living is the most outstanding. It is, therefore, upon the stakeholders to look into this and come up with a conclusive intervention for it.

Domestic Violence in Australia

Many cultures of the world stress the importance of a home as a place where comfort and security dwells. This, however, seems not to be a universally practiced statement given the number of women who undergo various horrific ordeals at the hands of their husbands at their very homes.

The aim of this essay is to provide an overview of domestic violence across Australia and develop strategies that highlight the ways in which the vice can be curbed in the region. The most common victims of domestic violence are the women, whose rights are often infringed by men. However, it should also be noted that a number of men undergo physical and sexual abuse from their spouses across Australia (Nilan, Julian, & Germov, 2009, p. 312).

In the past, domestic violence was understood to be the act of physical violence perpetrated against one member of a relationship by the other. This understanding, however, was discovered to have omitted some very sensitive and complex phenomenon on the same. According to the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and Children (NCRVWC), the key element of domestic violence is a persistence pattern of behavior that is deliberately intended to dominate over one partner by the other through fear; it can both be criminal and non criminal in nature.

Domestic violence includes emotional, verbal, social and economic abuses. It also includes the psychological, physical and sexual abuses that are committed by one partner against the other. Emotional abuse is whereby one victim persistently blames the other for all the problems that arise from the relationship. This undermines the self worth and self-esteem of the victim, who will eventually resort to comparing herself with others, interest withdrawal and blackmail (Brady, 2008, p. 80).

Verbal abuse is whereby one partner engages in humiliating or making vows either in private or public about the sexuality, intelligence and the body image of the victim to effectively deliver either as a spouse or a parent. Social abuse is the planned isolation of one partner from his or her friends or family members to a place where the victim is likely to be deprived of the most important needs like the employment opportunities (Edith Cowan University, n.d.b, p. 7).

Economic abuse is whereby one partner participates in activities such as controlling all the finances by him while forbidding the other partner access to their bank accounts. The perpetrator may also prevent the victim from looking for and holding employment with an aim of economically disenfranchising the victim. On the other hand, psychological abuse is where the perpetrator of domestic violence resorts to threatening the partner with the subject mater of the children’s psychology, destroying property, involvement in dangerous driving and abusing other domestic animals such as pets.

Physical abuse involves the infliction of direct harm on the body of the victim, children, house help and any living creature within the house. It can be performed by the use of weapons or with bare hands. It also entails subjecting the victim to food deprivation among other horrendous acts. The other form of domestic violence is the sexual abuse in which the perpetrator ensures that the victim participates in unwanted sex with him or her and as a result experiencing sexual pain during intercourse (Minnery & Greenhalgh, 2007, p. 648).

Groups at Risk from Domestic Violence

The most risky group of domestic violence includes the young women, especially the indigenous ones, the women living in rural and remote areas, and the females living with disabilities. Others include those women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (Australian Government, 2009, p. 1).

The vulnerability of the young woman toward domestic violence can be attributed to number of factors, which include inexperience, the differences of the age in the relationship and the inability to access vital services due to her tender age. It is also important to note that, not only are young women vulnerable to domestic violence but they are also senior perpetrators of the same toward young men (Fleming & Parker, 2008).

Most aboriginal females go through domestic brutality and are fully aware and used to the fact that it is meant to punish them for their wrong deeds. Women living in remote and rural areas have a high probability of experiencing domestic violence. However, such crimes are unlikely to be reported due to the presence of the informal sanctions and the social control systems. These reasons and stereotyping only serve to fuel this horrendous act (Ries, Miller, & Fielin, 2009, p. 314).

The other group of victims who are prone to domestic violence is the women living with disabilities. Apparently, due to their increased dependence, these women are susceptible to sexual, psychological and physical violence and most of the cases involving them go unreported (Willis, Reynolds, & Helen, 2008). Some of these women either do not know or cannot adequately speak English. Some people have taken advantage of this to abuse them for the comfort that they will not be able to report because of the inadequacy in the language of communication and fear

Consequences of the Domestic Violence

Domestic violence in Australia adversely affects the victims in a number of ways. The victims, who in this case are mostly the women, may undergo serious physical and mental health problems as a result of the violence. The abused women normally suffer from anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction, eating problems, and psychosomatic systems. In some cases such as those of rape, the women may end up having their reproductive health systems seriously impaired. Some of these health problems may become so adverse that they may even to death (Ellsberg, Jansen, & Heise, 2008, p. 1167).

Domestic violence may also impact negatively on the economic life of the women. At times, the violence does result in serious injuries thereby forcing the women to take time off work. There are sometimes cases where some of the women have been permanently relieved off their duties for being absent from their work places for a long time (Wendt, 2009, p. 58).

Intervention and Prevention Strategies

There are several things that the concerned Australian authorities and the affected women can do to prevent or to reduce the cases of the domestic violence in Australia. Firstly, the women should quit the relationships as soon as they begin to notice that their male partners are turning into abusers. When a spouse becomes so protective, always accusing his partner, easily angered, and becomes unappreciative, he is likely to start abusing his wife. Therefore, if the women notice such changes in their relationships, they should leave as fast as possible to avoid being abused (Brady, 2008, p. 108).

The authorities concerned should also enact tough laws that will ensure the culprits of domestic abuse are subjected to corporal punishment. The men who abuse their partners or even other women should be subjected to life imprisonment and forced to compensate the victims for the damages and injuries they sustain as a result of being abused (Minney & Greenhalgh, 2007, p. 651).

Domestic violence in Australia is a reality just as it is in other parts of the world. From the discussion above, it can be deduced that the practice can effectively thrive due to the lack of knowledge and fear amongst the vulnerable populations. With this in mind, adequate knowledge on the necessary intervention measures should be offered to the identified risk groups besides enhancing their security.

References

Australian Government. (2009). Domestic Violence Laws in Australia. Web.

Brady, M. (2008). Indigenous Australia and Alcohol Policy: Meeting Difference with Indifference. Sydney: UNSW Press.

Crane, P. R., & Brannock, J. M. (2010). Homelessness among young people in Australia : early intervention and prevention. Web.

Day, A. (2009). Domestic Violence – Working With Men: Research, Practice Experiences and Integrated Responses. Annandale: Federation Press.

Edith Cowan University. (n.d.a). Module 5: Domestic violence. Perth, WA: Edith Cowan University.

Edith Cowan University. (n.d.b). Module 6: Housing and homelessness. Perth, WA: Edith Cowan University.

Ellsberg, M., Jansen, H., & Heise, L. (2008). Intimate partner violence and women’s physical and mental health in the WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence: an observational study. The Lancet, 371 (9619), 1165 – 1172.

Fleming. F. L., & Parker, E. (2008). Introduction to public health. Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.

Lin, V., Smith, J., & Sally, F. (2007). Public health practice in Australia: The organized effort. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Martijin, C., & Sharpe, L. (2009). Parthways to youth homelessness. Social Science and Medicine, 62(1) , 1-12.

McMurray, A. (2007). Community health and wellness: A socio-ecological approach. Sydney, NSW: Mosby Elsevier.

Minney, J., & Greenhalgh, E. (2007). Approaches to Homelessness Policy in Europe, the United States, and Australia. Journal on Social Issues, 63(3) , 641-655.

Nilan, P., Julian, R., & Germov, J. (2007). Australian youth: Social and cultural issues. Melbourne, VIC: Pearson Education Australia.

Ries, R. K., Miller, S. C., & Fielin, D. A. (2009). Principles of Addiction Medicine. Sydney: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Wendt, S. (2009). Domestic violence in Rural Australia. Annandale, VA: Federation Press.

Willis, E., Reynolds, L., & Helen, K. (2008). Understanding the Australian health care system. Rows Nest, NSW: Allen & Urwin.

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