The Hills Shire Council is leading the way for families in crisis.
In a first for Local Government, Mayor of The Hills Shire, Councillor Yvonne Keane has introduced a new planning model, the Transitional Housing Policy Framework, that recognises the importance of transitional housing and highlights the lack of current stock.
The model encourages willing developers to provide a small number of transitional dwellings within new developments in return for an “uplift” in development yield.
The framework provides incentives to assist Local Government and other not-for-profit organisations provide a safe and temporary home for those escaping from domestic and family violence.
And is different from social and affordable housing.
Mayor Keane said she is so proud to belong to a Council tackling issues associated with domestic violence.
“For some time I’ve been thinking of ways in which The Hills Shire Council might play a key role in delivering tools to help our community respond to domestic violence. We have a wonderful women’s shelter, The Sanctuary, but the missing link is transitional housing,” Mayor Keane said.
“Transitional housing provides safe, comfortable and secure accommodation for women and their children to recover, re-build and make informed and empowered decisions about their lives and their future.
“It is the essential ‘next-step’ towards real independence. Without it, a woman is faced with the possibility of returning to the cycle of violence.
“The real beauty of this model is that it provides a mechanism to swiftly create a supply of transitional housing – and it does so at no cost to the community and the State and Federal Governments.
“I am so enormously proud of the proposal to solve the transitional housing issue in The Hills and I am even more proud that it was unanimously supported by Council,” Mayor Keane added.
CEO of Women’s Community Shelters, Annabelle Daniel, said moving on from domestic and family violence is a process which can take a number of years and Council’s Transitional Housing Policy Framework would help to provide more homes to those seeking assistance.
“Stable, affordable transitional housing, where women and children continue to receive support from people they trust, helps them enormously in building lives free from abuse,” Ms Daniel’s said.
“Supported accommodation, such as that encouraged by this proposal, will ensure women can focus on stability, opportunity and contribution, for themselves and for their children.”
CEO of Wentworth Community Housing, Stephen McIntyre welcomed the leadership of Council in responding to family and domestic violence and expanded on the important role that transitional housing can play to ensure its success.
“This innovative policy will promote partnerships between property developers and community housing providers to provide much needed transitional housing, providing a safe home and pathway to future independence,” Mr McIntyre said.
“The community housing sector is well regulated with annual compliance required against national standards. This means that providers like Wentworth are ideally suited to ensure the properties are professionally managed and that women and children are well supported during their transition period.”
The Federal Member for Berowra, Julian Leeser MP said Mayor Keane’s efforts to assist victims of domestic violence were to be commended.
“Yvonne Keane has been an outstanding Mayor of The Hills. The transitional housing policy is her legacy to our community,” Mr Leeser said.
“Yvonne’s dedication to assisting some of the most vulnerable members of The Hills community is an inspiration. Her transitional housing policy is just one example of her innovative thinking and ability to get results.
“Her leadership and the hard work of The Sanctuary – The Hills Women’s Shelter and the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter are providing essential support to women and their children when it is most needed.”
The model allows for transition dwellings to be provided in well-located and serviced areas at no direct cost to Council, Federal and State Governments and the community.
The planning proposal is currently being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment as part of the Gateway Process.