A rate exemption for a refuge for women and children fleeing domestic violence has been unanimously backed by Melton councillors.
Housing Choices Australia, which will manage the refuge, will purchase a Melton property as part of the state government’s response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
The not-for-profit group applied to Melton council for a rate exemption, which will allow funding to be maximised. Council officers expect the value of the rates at the property would be between $1000 and $2000.
A council report, presented at last week’s meeting, described the request as “compelling” for several reasons, including:
•A lack of housing options being a significant barrier to women leaving violent relationships.
•A lack of domestic violence refuges in the western region.
•A council policy that identified the need for “affordable, accessible and flexible” facilities.
•The high number of domestic violence incidents in the municipality. In the 2014-15 financial year, police received an average of four call outs a day for domestic violence-related matters.
Councillors Sophie Ramsey, Lara Carli, Michelle Mendes, Melissa De Santis, Bob Turner, Steve Abboushi, Goran Kesic and Ken Hardy voted in favour of waiving the rates.
Cr Kathy Majdlik was absent from last week’s meeting.
As part of the state government’s $50 million Rapid Housing Assistance Program, 124 properties will be leased and 184 purchased. The refuges are expected to be operational by June 30.
Housing, Disability and Ageing Minister Martin Foley last year said the refuges were “crucial” to support women and children forced to flee their homes.
“It’s exciting to see this come to fruition, achieving real bricks and mortar results,” Mr Foley said. “We are working with agencies to provide emergency relief for people in housing crisis by increasing the number of houses available to provide urgent assistance to women and children in dire circumstances.”