A private rental subsidy to support those escaping domestic and family violence has been expanded to now include those earning moderate incomes, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward announced today. Rent Choice Start Safely provides financial support for people escaping domestic or family violence. The subsidy helps people secure private rental accommodation so they do not have to return to a violent situation.

Access to Start Safely was previously only for those eligible for social housing, but it will now be open to people earning moderate incomes across NSW who are identified as at serious threat of domestic and family violence and at risk of homelessness. “Stable housing is a key part of ensuring women leaving domestic violence stay safe and can rebuild their lives and break the cycle of violence,” Ms Goward said.

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“Start Safely is just one of the programs the NSW Government is providing that allows victims of domestic violence to transition towards safe and stable living arrangement.” Initially the subsidy will be paid for three months. It can be continued for up to three years.

Additionally the NSW Government is introducing a new link between the program and Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) in two districts, Illawarra Shoalhaven and South West Sydney, to ensure more seamless access for victims of domestic and family violence. Ms Goward said this linked support would ensure those escaping violence in the home have integrated access to accommodation and support when and where they need it most.

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The CEO of Domestic Violence NSW Moo Baulch welcomed the announcement. “We welcome the extension of Start Safely to moderate income earners and look forward to seeing the results of the SHS trial delivered by specialist workers,” Ms Baulch said. The NSW Government announced $25 million for Start Safely in the 2017/18 Budget.