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Continued Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic and Family Violence

In March, April and June 2020, Women’s Safety NSW published three reports detailing the overall impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.

Women’s Safety NSW also released a series of reports detailing the specific impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on select groups of women and children experiencing domestic and family violence, as well as particular issues including:

Currently, almost two months have passed since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in NSW, however many victims of domestic and family violence continue to remain at home with their abusers and the economic and financial impacts of COVID-19 are increasingly being felt, raising further concerns about a potential worsening of violence and abuse and ongoing barriers in accessing services and support.

Methodology

To gain an understanding of the continued impacts of COVID-19 on domestic and family violence victims-survivors and frontline workers since the lifting of restrictions in NSW, Women’s Safety NSW conducted an online survey with domestic and family violence specialists right across NSW. The survey was completed between the dates of the 24th of August 2020 and the 2nd of September 2020, by a diverse range of 53frontline specialists from 34 services covering each geographical centre of NSW. This includes each of the 27 Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCASs) which collectively supported over 51,000 women last year experiencing domestic and family violence, mostly following a police incident, as well as two women’s refuges, two women’s health centres, two staying home leaving violence services, and a women’s counselling and case management service, as well as 16 respondents from women’s specialist services who chose not to identify their service.

Survey participants were located in Inner Metropolitan (15%), Outer Metropolitan (30%), Regional (49%) and Rural/Remote (8%) locations. The participants included women’s domestic and family violence specialists in a variety of roles including; managers, assistant managers, support workers, domestic and family violence specialists, intake and referral officers, case workers, program managers, executive officers, safety action meeting coordinators and family advocacy support service workers. The survey asked for feedback and opinions on the continuing impacts of COVID-19 on domestic and family violence.

Key Findings: The Continuing Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic and Family Violence

The following represents the key survey findings:

  • 45% stated that their client numbers have continued to rise since COVID restrictions began to lift and when compared to this time last year.
  • 80% have noticed an increase in the percentage of higher risk cases since the lifting of COVID restrictions, identifying the worsening economic and financial impacts of COVID as a key factor.
  • 86% have noticed an increase in the complexity of client needs since the lifting of COVID restrictions, also due to the economic and financial impacts of COVID.
  • 73% have noticed an escalation in violence and abuse triggered by drug and alcohol abuse.
  • 69% have noticed an escalation in violence and abuse triggered by unemployment and financial pressures.
  • 71% stated that a key service gap for their clients is access to ongoing affordable accommodation.
  • 63% stated that a key service issue for their clients is inconsistent police responses.
  • 51% stated that their service needs more resources so that women experiencing violence and abuse, who have complex needs, can have access to specialist support.
  • 98% believed that victims of domestic violence should be able to call police using a ‘silent solution’ by simply pressing the number ‘55’ after dialing ‘000’, so the perpetrator doesn’t know they made the call.

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