Australian-first housing for women and children opens its doors

Launch Housing, in partnership with Uniting Vic.Tas, generous donors and the Victorian Government, has welcomed its first families to their new home, Viv’s Place, an Australian-first apartment building in Dandenong for at-risk women and children.

The $30 million project was made possible by a group of generous philanthropic donors, who have funded over 40 percent of the project.

Based in Dandenong, Viv’s Place provides a unique combination of permanent housing and on-site wrap-around support services to provide a fresh start for up to 60 women and 130 children escaping family violence and homelessness.

The building includes 60 dual key apartments, along with communal kitchen and living spaces, children’s play spaces, offices, community gardens and family and child-specific services on site.

Viv’s Place was initially anchored by donations from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Shine on Foundation, followed by Gandel Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation, as well as a host of other generous donors.

The Ian Potter Foundation generously donated $2.5 million to Viv’s Place, sharing Launch Housing’s vision to make a lasting impact on vulnerable families.

“The Board of The Ian Potter Foundation was impressed by key attributes of Launch Housing’s proposal for Viv’s Place. As an Australian first for a project of this scale – based on a proven international model including the provision of comprehensive wrap-around support services for women and their children escaping domestic violence – the proposal was outstanding”, said Mr Charles Goode AC, Chairman of the Foundation.

“Most significantly, Viv’s Place will demonstrate the social and economic value of permanent housing. While the need is much greater than this project can address, it is the Foundation’s hope that Viv’s Place will leverage further investment nationally to allow the replication of a model that more effectively addresses the risk of homelessness for many women and young children suffering domestic violence”, Mr Goode added.

Robin Friday and his extended family also played a critical role in bringing the project to fruition, contributing $1.2 million from the sale of his family home in Box Hill.

Mr Friday and his late wife, Mary Lou, made an “unearned windfall profit” on the sale of their family home and wanted to use some of the proceeds to make a difference to those in need.

“I felt unhappy about the levels of homelessness in Melbourne and wanted to put some of the profits from the sale of our home into something that would make a difference,” Mr Friday said.

“It is such a boost to see the project completed and to such a high standard.”

Launch Housing CEO, Bevan Warner said Viv’s Place will provide the safety and security women and children need to rebuild their lives.

“Poverty and family violence are constant pressures that push many women into the impossible position of raising a family without a stable home,” Mr Warner said.

“From the first day families move into Viv’s Place, they have a safe and permanent home to recover and rebuild, access to the support they need and the opportunity to put down roots and participate in the local community.”

“Solutions like Viv’s Place are critical to breaking the cycle of intergenerational homelessness and giving children a better start in life. At Viv’s Place, children are supported to attend school, maintain healthy relationships with family, friends and community, and lead a happy and healthy life.”

“We hope Viv’s Place becomes the first of many of these kinds of holistic housing and support models that are so desperately needed across Australia.”

Viv’s Place is based on a highly successful model in Broadway, New York, which has created supported communities in such apartment blocks over 30 years and supported thousands of people out of homelessness by giving them a permanent home and other help.


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Clare Lawson
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Viv's Place Opening