Hive Village Project
Forever homes for survivors of family violence.
Australia's first Survivor-led housing solution for people and animal survivors of domestic and family violence in regional areas.
Australia's most significant contributor to women’s homelessness is domestic and family abuse/violence.
Domestic and family violence (DFV) is the main reason women and children leave their homes. In 2017–18, 121,100 people (42% of all clients) who presented as clients to a Specialist Homelessness Service (SHS) reported that they were escaping DFV.
Of these DFV clients, over 26,500 were children aged nine or younger; 24,500 were adults aged 25 to 34, of whom 94 per cent were female; and 61 per cent (about 113,800 people) were at risk of homelessness when they first came looking for help and support.
Source: Specialist homelessness services annual report 2017–18, Clients who have experienced domestic and family violence - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)
HIGHER RISK GROUPS
Groups at a higher risk of domestic and family violence include women with disabilities, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women experiencing financial hardship, and women and men who experienced abuse or witnessed domestic violence as children. In many cases, economic and social disadvantage also threaten their access to housing.
Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, often financially dependent on their spouses or unable to work due to visa restrictions, are also particularly vulnerable. Social isolation plus language and cultural barriers can restrict women from CALD communities from accessing support and legal services.
Source: Domestic violence the leading cause of homelessness for women (sbs.com.au)
Hive Villages will be permanent, universally designed (accessible by default), pet-friendly, regionally focussed, and LGBTIQ friendly.
There are currently no other solutions that solve all of the above. Some services only assist women, some only assist men, and some only assist single women or people without pets or disabled people. This national-scale project will be the first of its kind in Australia.
Determined to solve the cycle of homelessness in Australia, the Hive Village Project is a housing solution that will provide intersectional, universally designed, permanent housing with integrated support services for human and animal survivors of Domestic & Family Abuse in regional Australia.
Wrap-around support can lead to higher appointment attendance, family and animal wellbeing, and health outcomes. The collective support of the village can also improve mental health.
We will follow best practices and include lived expertise to ensure its success and build community trust, knowing that we "get it" personally and professionally – neutralising power imbalances.
Hive Village aims to reduce the rates of homelessness, survivors returning to their abusers due to lack of safe alternatives, suicidality of survivors due to hopelessness, lifelong reliance on services, and the ongoing trauma of multiple relocations.
Hive Villages will be forever homes for human and animal survivors that will be fully furnished – right down to the toothbrush.
Mel's life to date has taught her invaluable knowledge on topics such as domestic and family abuse/violence, sexual violence, mental health, addiction and complex trauma. Mel is a Lived Expertise Consultant, Writer & Author, Media Advocate, Speaker and Ambassador via www.melwojtas.com and www.melwroteit.com.
As a survivor, Mel understood the existing system gaps and has dedicated the rest of her life to creating a solution that will catch as many survivors as possible who currently fall through the cracks. The more survivors and services I liaised with, the more I realised how many gaps existed.
Founded in 2o16, Mel first conceptualised a village setting that would ‘bring back the village’ to wrap around survivors and their families (including their pets) to stop the cycle of homelessness, poverty and housing instability.
To align with this purpose, Mel has studied Community Services at TAFE NSW and began studying a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in Human Services at the University of Newcastle (Australia).
Attending regular industry training and conferences to stay informed of current resources and best practices, Mel is lobbying the government for changes at all levels. From primary prevention education and societal attitudes to improving existing systems, service gaps and government policy. The last few years have seen Mel become an in-demand Media Advocate, Speaker and Policy Consultant in the domestic and family violence prevention sector.
POINTS OF DIFFERENCE
ENDING REGIONAL (DFV-RELATED) HOMELESSNESS
Hive Village will support survivors' post-crisis phase without time limits (instead of spending the next few years in transitional housing), anxiously awaiting public housing waitlists, or navigating the private rental market. This change alone could assist in ending the cycle of homelessness in Australia.
Note: Hive Villages won’t be suitable in an emergency when high-risk victim-survivors require the anonymity of an emergency shelter/refuge. Our offering is best-suited post-crisis.
Conceptualised by a survivor of abuse and violence, Founder & CEO – Mel Wojtas, Hive Village will be co-designed with survivors and industry experts from different backgrounds and abilities to ensure it is appropriate and sustainable for the region and its residents.
Each village will be trauma-informed, person-centred, and follow best practices by utilising lived expertise, current industry knowledge, and tertiary training. For this reason, Mel has been studying Community Services and Social Science for the past few years to complement three decades if lived expertise.
Hive Villages would suit a farm or acreage, with multiple cottages scattered around, rather than high-density solutions which can trigger ongoing trauma responses—making this perfect for regional areas which unfortunately have a great need for these villages.
Each village will feature a hub space that could also be used as an outreach site, fostering community and collective healing, Hive Villages won't be another hands-off, housing provider.
Building Hive Villages in regional towns near established Domestic and Family Abuse/Violence and allied health networks will ensure the residents are linked in with appropriate, accessible, long-term wrap-around support.
Since the conception of Hive Village, Mel has envisioned this as a solution suitable for National deployment once the NSW pilot site has been established and measured.
Mel is a Centre for Universal Design Australia (CUDA) member and believes that Hive Villages should be designed following Universal Design principles.
The 8 Goals of Universal Design:
1. Body Fit
Accommodating a wide range of body sizes and abilities
Keeping demands within desirable limits of body function and perception
Ensuring that critical information for use is easily perceived
Making methods of operation and use intuitive, clear, and unambiguous
Contributing to health promotion, avoidance of disease, and protection from hazards
6. Social Integration
Treating all groups with dignity and respect
Incorporating opportunities for choice and the expression of individual preferences
8. Cultural Appropriateness
Respecting and reinforcing cultural values, and the social and environmental contexts of any design project
'Universal Design (UD) is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation.'
© Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012
Source: Centre of Design and Environmental Access, University at Buffalo, NY
UD IN THE AUSTRALIAN CONTEXT:
Housing Design Policy Archives - Centre for Universal Design Australia
Policy - Built Environment Archives - Centre for Universal Design Australia
Why do we need UD features in housing? - Centre for Universal Design Australia
Why do we need universal design features in all new housing? | LinkedIn
Microsoft Word - Preliminary_findings__new_housing_audit_26_Aug_2020_FINAL_DPedit2-AB.docx (summerfoundation.org.au)
TRAINING & TECH
More than housing, Hive Villages will provide training opportunities and access to technology to assist residents in staying connected with schooling and/or work commitments. Reducing barriers to opportunities for residents who would otherwise be unable to fulfil their personal goals and dreams due to financial barriers.
Hive Villages will increase regional jobs during construction and ongoing maintenance and local service contracts.
Integrated services and support for a holistic approach to healing and thriving, Hive Villages will feature the below points of difference within each village site.
HOLISTIC SUPPORT ACROSS THE LIFESPAN
CONTACT HIVE VILLAGE PROJECT
Hive Village will feature on-site security and 24hr support workers for out of usual hours support and peace of mind.
Personal duress alarms will also be offered for those who wish to use them.
With an on-site hub as part of each village, local domestic violence services will be able to conduct outreach sessions in a relaxed and warm environment.
Providing long-term specialist support to residents at various stages of their post-crisis journey.
We will have a dedicated child-friendly space for local children's services to visit i.e: child psychology, therapy, treatment and support.
Equine and play based therapy may also be available in certain sites.
Local health practitioners will be able to hot desk out of each site, providing high-quality care to meet the needs of all residents.
Visiting services could include dental, optical and auditory assessments as well as flu-shots and vaccinations.
Hive Villages will be accessible by default, including communal recreation and play spaces for all children to enjoy.
Offering time out for parent/carers to sit down nearby and connect with their neighbours.
A dedicated co-working hub will feature at each site, to enable residents to focus on their homework, work or study in a space that's separate to their home (if they wish to do so).
Each hub will have access to technology, printing and scanning for important documents and internet access.
We love that children learn via play and it's crucial for their development.
Whether it's organised play sessions for rainy days or weekly activities, there will be plenty to keep the kids entertained at Hive Village while their parent/carer has some down time.
Hive Villages will encourage self-care by offering residents relaxation and wellbeing opportunities on-site.
In consultation with residents, activities could include yoga, mindfulness, walking groups, art therapy, art and craft, massage, pampering and games nights.
Hive Village understands that our furry friends need TLC too, so a visiting Vet will be arranged for all sites.
With sustainability and food security in mind, each village will feature communal (accessible) gardens for residents to care for and enjoy each harvest.
Hive Villages appreciates that our residents will be at varying stages of their lives. Each site will feature a visiting legal clinic to improve access to legal support, advocacy and justice.
HOME CARE SUPPORT
We want residents to thrive and love living at Hive Village. Maintenance and home care options will be available at all sites, to ensure each resident has peace of mind.
WHERE TO FIND SUPPORT
Hive Villages have not been built (yet), so we cannot accept referrals or respond to calls for help. This includes via our contact form below.
To access referrals to services, emergency accommodation or support in your local area, please contact your GP or 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or violence, information and referrals to services can be made by contacting:
National Helpline 1800RESPECT ring 1800 737 732
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
NSW DV hotline 1800 65 64 63
NEED HELP NOW?
Always ring Emergency 000 to reach Police, Fire or Ambulance in Australia
MEDIA AND GENERAL CONTACT
Please complete the below form to reach Mel regarding Hive Village Project.
Do not use this form to request help in a crisis or seek referrals to services.