State's frontline workers unite to tackle domestic and family violence

Photo: Staged image.
Photo: Staged image.

Fears over a spike in domestic and family violence across the state's border have led South Australia's frontline workers to unite their resources during the COVID-19 shutdown.

A New South Wales-based community women's shelter revealed a 25 to 30 per cent increase in calls for help since the pandemic hit.

The concern is shared by the federal government which highlighted that Google is showing the "highest searches" for domestic violence help seen in the past five years.

Government officials said this was an increase of 75 per cent and that "some services" were already reporting an increase in demand.

But SA Police say it is "too early" to measure whether there is a rise in domestic violence as a result of self-isolation in country areas.

The service said that officers are continually monitoring domestic violence cases through police data and working with Multi-Agency Hub and Multi-Agency protective services to exchange information.

"All agencies are collaborating to ensure that vulnerable victims of domestic abuse continue to be supported and monitored as well as the activity of perpetrators," a police spokesperson told Australian Community Media.

"We will continue to focus efforts to ensure people's safety and this requires a collaborative approach with all the relevant agencies."

In support, an initial $150 million will be given to assist people experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence in the coronavirus crisis.

The funds are provided in the federal government's billion-dollar stimulus packages unveiled in response to the pandemic.

The money will be used to boost programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Financial help will support:

  • Counselling support for families affected by, or at risk of experiencing, domestic and family violence including men's behaviour change programs which will provide a short, medium and longer term response to support men.
  • 1800RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling service, which already answers around 160,000 calls a year.
  • Mensline Australia, the national counselling service for men that provides support for emotional health and relationship concerns for men affected by or considering using violence.
  • Trafficked People Program to support particularly vulnerable cohorts such as victims of human trafficking, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices.
  • Support programs for women and children experiencing violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes, or a home of their choice, when it is safe to do so.

A new public communication campaign will extend around the nation to help those experiencing domestic violence in the crisis.

People who feel concerned should contact the 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) phone number, DV Crisis Line on 1800 800 098, or contact police through 131 444 or 000 in an emergency.

This story Domestic violence concerns amid coronavirus crisis first appeared on Barossa & Light Herald.