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Domestic Violence Crisis Accommodation Functional Design Brief

Frequently asked questions

What is the intent of the Domestic Violence Crisis Accommodation Functional Design Brief?

The brief is provided to help design best practice core and cluster crisis accommodation for women and children escaping domestic and family violence.

The intent of the brief is to provide:

  • guidance to project and design teams on culturally appropriate design principles
  • key spatial relationships and design criteria to optimise independence, safety, and wellbeing
  • places of healing for women and children.

What is core and cluster crisis accommodation?

Core and cluster refers to a new model of women’s crisis accommodation (refuge). The model typically consists of a network or ‘cluster’ of separate residences or units, linked to a ‘core’ communal area for onsite support.

The ‘cluster’ units are usually self-contained, with bedroom, kitchen, laundrette, bathroom and living facilities.

This accommodation approach allows for independent living while also providing comprehensive support services for women and children.

Why is the core and cluster model being proposed?

Core and cluster crisis accommodation is considered the preferred option to address issues with the current ‘communal living’ model, which has been under increasing stress following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Am I required to build core and cluster for all new crisis accommodation?

The core and cluster model is currently the preferred model for new crisis accommodation in several Australian states including NSW.

The functional design brief which focuses on the core and cluster model has been developed to optimise safety, independence, wellbeing and amenity for the residents.

This model is not mandated under current planning legislation however the NSW Government strongly endorses its use in conjunction with a site-specific project brief.

Any crisis accommodation project which receives NSW Government funding will be expected to adopt the model where possible.

Can the functional design brief be used to inform modifications to existing crisis accommodation?

Yes, the brief and its design principles can be applied to new construction or alterations to existing crisis accommodation.

Can the functional design brief be applied to non-Government projects?

Yes, the brief can be applied to any crisis accommodation project targeting women and children. Applying the brief will allow the project to be guided by culturally appropriate design principles.

How should the functional design brief be used?

The brief can be used to assist with site selection and design. Once a site is selected, it should be used in conjunction with a site-specific project brief, which will provide details of the project including site address, intended number of occupants and service providers.

Who was consulted to prepare the functional design brief?

The brief is informed by research and engagement with stakeholders. Engagement sessions were held with peak bodies, community housing providers and specialist homelessness providers throughout the course of the development of the functional design brief document.

Where can I view the full feedback received from the engagement sessions?

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

I have some feedback or improvements, where can I send them?

We invite feedback on the functional design brief. Submit your feedback via our Contact us page, under the heading ‘All other enquiries’.

I am experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence, where do I go?

Call the Domestic Violence Line (24 hours) on 1800 65 64 63.

A trained female staff member will help you find a safe place and refer you to local support services such as health or legal services.

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.