Jenny Is 73. She Lived In Her Car For Nine Months.



Most people think that today, in Australia, if women leave a violent situation, they can escape to a refuge or charity. The reality is much more dire. It’s estimated that at least 122,000 people are homeless every night. For women, the leading cause is domestic and family violence – and the painful truth is that when women leave violent homes, often, there isn’t enough accommodation to support them.

“We don’t want to discourage people from seeking help. There are vacancies that come up, but most services are operating over capacity, well and truly,”

– Annabelle Daniel, CEO of Women’s Community Shelters

As a result, too often, women are diverted into motels, caravan parks and repurposed aged care facilities around the country. In Victoria now, 80 percent of women who seek to leave domestic and family violence are placed in motels. The housing crisis has only exacerbated demand.  To cope with the wave of women and children overflowing from social services and into homelessness, charities and churches are establishing a growing number of pop-ups and car parks.

Danielle Whyte runs the car park and connected services at Car2Home in Lake Macquarie that gave Jenny safe haven. She says that when clients first see the facilities, it’s the bathrooms they’re most affected by: some women cry on seeing them. There’s dignity in a clean bathroom.

“We want to see social housing in NSW get sorted out. But until that happens, if we can help one person at a time, get into one house at a time, that’s progress. If you sit there and say the problem’s too big, nothing is going to happen.”

– Danielle Whyte, Car2Home

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Jenny is that one person, with that one house. She and Danielle started out as caseworker and client, but these days they’re friends. Danielle drops round when she’s in the area. Jenny doesn’t have many visitors, and doesn’t like to leave the house, but she likes company, when she’s feeling well.

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