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Evaluating housing support for women and children escaping violence

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Evaluating housing support for women and children escaping violence

Nous worked with a state government department responsible for community housing services. 

Housing is critical for women and children escaping domestic and family violence

In a crisis, housing support helps keep women and their children safe. Services include refuges, motel rooms and short-term supported accommodation. The government department enlisted Nous to review its housing support program.

Our evaluation focused on support services

Nous looked at the process and outcomes of five housing support services, which provided immediate support to women and children to be placed in motels for immediate safety. Our evaluation included: 

  • interviewing clients and staff to understand how the service model had been implemented in different settings 
  • analysing service, client, financial and national data to understand the patterns of client movement through the services and to assess their cost effectiveness.  

We conducted interviews in a safe place or over the phone, according to client preference. The interviews were easy-going, respectful and supportive, eliciting valuable feedback on what customers valued in the service model and what they thought could be improved. 

Our evaluation identified lessons for future service design

We formed a detailed picture of how the model had been implemented across sites and identified lessons for policy-makers designing future housing support services for women and children escaping domestic and family violence. Lessons included: 

  • A transparent and consistent referral system is required for an efficient system in which services are aligned to need. 
  • Motels are important in accommodation responses, given of the lack of traditional refuge places available. 
  • Most current models do not operate at sufficient scale to meet demand and do not always provide the full range of services. 
  • Model design should consider the full client pathway, including the availability of viable long-term accommodation. 
  • Clear and consistent data and reporting requirements that are aligned to outcomes rather than outputs are required. 

What can you learn from Nous’ evaluation

  • Services should be adapted to local conditions.
  • Services should be provided close to a client’s home, wherever safe.
  • The number of steps in the client journey should be minimised.

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