Housing shortage impacts Qld DV victims

·2-min read

A desperate shortage of social housing in regional Queensland is forcing women to stay in violent relationships, an inquiry has been told.

The far-reaching probe into police responses to domestic violence is hearing evidence from Townsville, in the state's north.

Many local women wanting to escape a violent relationship have nowhere to go, a witness from the Palm Island Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women's Legal Service said.

The fear of being stranded and unable to give their children a home forced many women to stay, WLS community development worker Florence Onus told Friday's hearing.

"There is not enough housing available for women who flee domestic and family violence so when they do make the decision to leave there is nowhere for them to go.

"A lot of women make a decision to stay because they don't want themselves and their children to be homeless."

The history of the Stolen Generations weighs heavily on First Nations women desperate to keep their families together.

"That is one of the key things and because it's part of our culture as well. Family is everything to us and when you look at our kinship systems, it's very strong," Ms Onus said.

The community worker was also critical of police in dealing with domestic violence situations.

"When the police turn up, they speak to the male person first and get their side of the story and then identify that the woman is the perpetrator and not the male," Ms Onus said.

A perceived racial bias was also reported by women in mixed-race relationships.

"Threats that have been made to them ... 'I'm going to paint you (as) this crazy black woman' - it's another form of a cohesive control," she said.

"The women are reluctant to call the police and they continue to stay in that situation until things really escalate."

Improving cultural awareness between officers and residents in rural and remote regions was vital, Ms Onus told the inquiry.

"There is an ingrained fear of police that's been handed down from generation to generation.

"Queensland police are not the only solution, however, changes in practice to ensure there are more culturally appropriate responses done in a holistic way is critical."

Judge Deborah Richards is heading the independent commission created in response to Women's Safety and Justice Taskforce recommendations.

The commission is due to report by October 4.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting