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Full Report: Child Contact, Shared Care & Family Law in the Context of DFV & COVID-19

Women’s Safety NSW has surveyed its members who are specialist domestic violence workers in NSW about the impact of COVID-19 on child contact, shared care and family law arrangements in the context of domestic and family violence and found what the chief executive, Hayley Foster, has described as “worryingresults.

Nearly four out of five of the 56 domestic violence workers who responded to the state-wide survey reported they had already seen an increase in clients who were experiencing issues in relation to child contact, shared care and family law since the outbreak of COVID-19, whilst two in three of these workers reported they were seeing an increase in the complexity of such cases.

“Some fathers are using the lock down to refuse to hand over children and some are demanding the children come to their home when the father has flu-like symptoms,” says one Safety Action Meeting Coordinator from a Regional Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service.

“Mothers are forced to send children to violent fathers due to family law orders and are unable to vary the orders due to court/legal representative restrictions,” says another Regional Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service worker.

Over three-quarters (77.3%) of domestic violence workers surveyed reported that safe places for child handovers with their abusive ex-partners no longer being open or available was a serious issue of concern for clients in the context of COVID-19, with many women having to compromise their personal safety through makeshift, informal handover arrangements.

The survey also reveals that three-quarters (75%) of frontline domestic violence workers hold “serious concerns” about the numbers of women succumbing to child contact with a violent parent due to their own lack of other supports in the context of COVID-19.

Access the full report HERE.