Victim needs a home

Bryce Eishold

A woman who was allegedly stabbed after going to the aid of a neighbour involved in a domestic dispute fears she could be homeless by Christmas.

Sarah, whose real identity has been withheld, was allegedly stabbed in the chest and hand after she responded to “desperate calls of help” from a woman who was being allegedly assaulted by her partner in the same housing complex.

The 37-year-old woman, who is completing a Masters in Law, has been unable to move from her home after months of discussions with local support organisations, despite claims her mental health has deteriorated significantly since the incident.

While the woman is not in any immediate danger, her lease is set to expire in December and fears she will be unable to find suitable accommodation in the region before Christmas.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe, who has made enquiries with a number of organisations on her behalf, said they hadn’t been able to find suitable accommodation “despite their best efforts” and issued a plea for “fellow community members” to help.

“It’s the psychological issues and the trauma it causes. I have difficulty concentrating so I cant study at home, I get upset easily and I’m irritable – I prefer not to be at home if I can,” Sarah told The Express on Friday.

“I’ve attempted to just get on with where I was at because I’m studying and I’m doing it by distance … but living where I’m living after I was attacked has significantly impacted my mental health and my capacity to concentrate and study.’

“There’s very little joy to be had in the rental market, everything is either too expensive or if it’s in my price range it’s not very appropriate. I’ve been looking at housing where drug users lived and the power points are burnt out.”

The Newstart Allowance recipient who has lived in the Latrobe Valley since birth has been placed on a Department of Housing waiting list “which could take years” and fears she may be forced remain at the home where she was allegedly stabbed months earlier.

“I hope I can find alternative accommodation I can afford because I just want to be able to go back to my life and get on with my degree and get on with things,” Sarah said.

While she admits her rental history is not perfect, Sarah said she had a decade of “good rental history” particularly given a large portion of her weekly income is spent on rent.

“I’ve had some rent arrears because being on Newstart. I pay 50 per cent of my of my income in rent and sometimes things come up and you cant afford to pay it,” Sarah said.

“But the main reasons I want to stay in Morwell is because I go to church in Morwell, my friends are here, all of my supports are here and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to go further out.”

Mr Northe last week called on his electorate to support Sarah by offering a suitable place for her and her pet cats to live.

“I just felt we have to do something to support a person who’s been through such a traumatic incident and situation,” Mr Northe said.

“I’ve made representative on [her] behalf to a number of organisations within the community and whilst they’ve been as help as they can be, the facts are we’re just finding [she] is slipping through the cracks of meeting the eligibility criteria.

“I think after speaking with [her] case worker through [advocacy body] Victims of Crime. We collectively feel that we need to find her a private rental within Morwell and hopefully there’s a good Samaritan that will come out of the woodwork and support one of their fellow community members who has been through such an awful time.”

He said a suitable house in Morwell would have to be pet-friendly and close to public transport given she does not drive.

“[Sarah] has [cats] and that can be a deterrent in some situations but understanding her situation, it’s important she has some companionship and so therefore her animals are important,” Mr Northe said.

“We’re really appealing to the general public, hopefully some landlord out there has availability of a private rental in a good location where she can continue to have her supports and contacts within the local community.”

If you or someone you know can help Sarah with suitable accommodation, phone Mr Northe’s office on 5133 9088.