A NSW Government website

Plans and Policies

Safer crisis accommodation for women and children escaping domestic violence

Mother watching children playing

Best-practice guidelines for the design of crisis accommodation

In 2020–21, almost 40 per cent of the people who accessed specialist homelessness services in NSW had experienced domestic abuse.

Our crisis accommodation guide helps architects, developers and our partners in the not-for-profit space to build safe and secure refuges where people can begin to heal.

Read our Domestic Violence Crisis Accommodation Functional Design Brief (PDF, 1802.31 KB).

Our recommendations: Flexible, family friendly spaces

Traditionally, refuges have been relatively communal, with women and children sharing spaces. However, there has been a shift in thinking throughout the sector nationally, transitioning away from communal accommodation to a ‘core and cluster’ model of crisis accommodation.

The core and cluster model typically consists of a ‘cluster’ of separate, self-contained residences or units that are linked to a ‘core’ communal area accommodating onsite support.

The guidelines focus on delivering flexible, family friendly spaces that promote wellbeing and healing. Recommendations include:

  • greater privacy, safety and independence
  • quiet rooms for prayer or meditation
  • dedicated spaces for children of all ages
  • gardens and pet-friendly courtyards
  • increased connection between internal living spaces and the garden
  • greater ability to provide flexibility for families of varying sizes
  • opportunities to partner with local council to deliver safe and secure parking.

The guidelines were developed by the NSW Land and Housing Corporation (LAHC) and Government Architect NSW (GANSW) in consultation with the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) and relevant peak bodies, community housing providers and specialist homelessness providers.

Read the feedback from our engagement sessions (PDF, 149.87 KB).

If you are an architect, developer or work for a community housing provider, our frequently asked questions cover key issues. You can also contact us with specific questions or to provide feedback.

Confidential advice, support and referrals

The NSW Government delivers a range of services, including housing assistance, to help those who are experiencing or who have experienced domestic or family violence.

If you or someone you know needs to access crisis accommodation, call the Domestic Violence Line (24 hours) on 1800 65 64 63.

Alternatively, call Link2home (24 hours) on 1800 152 152. You can ask for information or a referral to specialist homelessness services that support women and children escaping domestic violence.