Victoria’s purpose-built $580 million Mickleham Post Entry Quarantine Centre closed early last month, after just eight months in operation.
The underutilised and mostly empty facility offers a perfect opportunity to provide a temporary home for women escaping domestic violence, Sue Bolton told Green Left.
Bolton, a long-term councillor in Merri-bek is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale.
The facility has a total of 1000 beds and, even if a proportion of these were made available, it would alleviate pressure on other services and offer a safe haven in a period of crisis, Bolton said.
At the moment many women and their children are forced to sleep in their cars or on friend’s couches while they try to rebuild their lives.
The accommodation centre could help them at a difficult time and allow an opportunity to find more permanent accommodation.
“A centre like Mickleham would make it easier for other services on site to help such women," Bolton said. "It could operate as a hub for information, medical services, legal aid and financial aid at the same time.”
With many women struggling to access the federal government’s $5000 escaping violence payment, a safe place to live while the payment is being processed is essential, Bolton said.
The Red Heart Campaign estimates that more than 50 children and women have been killed so far this year — 20 classed from domestic violence and 18 from intimate partner violence.
The federal government’s Standing Committee on Social and Legal Affairs reported in March last year that, on average, one woman dies every eight days at the hands of her partner or former partner.
The Mickleham Centre will be managed by the federal government as of January 1 and its use will be decided then.
Bolton said: “Stopping gender and family violence is going to be difficult, but one important step would be to expand funding for women's refuges and community anti-violence campaigns.”