(Mentions DV, mental health, trauma)
I got a call from my Doctor today. It suprised me when I saw her number on my phone screen because I wasn’t expecting it. My mind raced. Did I have test results coming back? Was I late for an appointment? Did I have antibiotics that needed changing? Everything ran through my mind in half a second and I came up blank. I had no idea why she was calling. It seemed like an eternity but it was only a second before I answered.
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “I just didn’t know who else to call.” Then it clicked. My Doctor knows what I do for work. She knows about this charity. She was calling to ask me for help.
“I’m sorry to call but I have a lady here and she desperately needs help. She has tried everything and everywhere and no one is able to help her.”
My Doctor is diligent and had covered all of the privacy protocols. This wasn’t a house call. It was a call for help. Her patient, Sophie was in her office and was in desperate need for support but none of the organisations she was linked in with were helping and Sophie’s mental health was suffering.
I called Sophie back later that night to ask what was happening. Once again it was the same story. Sophie was a domestic violence victim and although she was linked with all of the major DV services nothing was progressing.
Sophie’s was put into a hotel by the organisation meant to care for her but she’s paying almost all of her parenting payment in hotel fees. They’re even taking most of her COVID supplement. The case worker was pushing Sophie to take a house she couldn’t afford and as Sophie said, “He talks over the top of me. He threatens to take the funding away if I don’t take the house and he said they won’t help me any more unless I take it. But I can’t afford it. It’s way too high rent and far from my sons school but when I bring it up he tells me to take it or I get no more help.”
Sophie has asked to be transferred to a female housing worker but was refused. She asked or support to fill out the applications but was refused. English is Sophie’s second language and she didn’t know how to fill out the forms. She was told to look for and apply for 5 houses per week or her hotel funding would be cut. Even though they are making her pay almost $900 per fortnight for the hotel.
Sophie is receiving no help with applications and she doesn’t know how to fill them out. She has been promised support with the children and with food but it has never materialised and she has been told to to apply for houses too far for her to travel to her sons school and back.
Basically, she’s had no support whatsoever apart from a small part payment for the hotel room which they keep threatening to take away from her.
I asked Sophie if I could speak to her housing worker on her behalf and she said yes. The housing worker is refusing to respond to this request and won’t speak to me.
Sophie is crying, terrified she will end up on the street and has absolutely no end in sight for her situation. She’s not receiving any help or support.
Just like Christine.
This is just another case of our housing support system for people experiencing homelessness and domestic abuse being woefully inadequate both in service delivery and its treatment of women.
We have to take this further.
We recently received so many anonymous and open responses when we spoke about Christines case and the lack of actual support in the Victorian system for women escaping domestic abuse. So many women had received similar appalling treatment.
We cannot let it rest here and keep hearing these same stories over and over again and not do something about it.
If you have experienced inadequate or lack of support from domestic violence agencies in Victoria please let us know. You can remain anonymous if you wish but we need to make sure every single person responsible for these services is held accountable if they are not doing their job properly.
There are just too many stories of failure.
Enough is enough. It’s time to make the Victorian government accountable and for victims of domestic violence to be given appropriate adequate and dignified services in a timely and respectful manner as is their right. It’s actually rare to hear a story with a positive outcome.
I acknowledge there are some but they should ALL be stories with a positive outcome. We should expect nothing less!
Please tag any members of parliament whom you feel need to hear this message and make these organisations accountable.
If you have a story please private message us or send it to
You will remain anonymous if you wish.