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Report: Experiences of Indigenous women impacted by violence during COVID-19

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are the most at risk group of experiencing domestic and family violence in this country, being, between 2 and 5 times more likely to experience violence when compared to our non-Indigenous counterparts (ANROWS 2014). Furthermore, Indigenous women are 35 times more likely to experience violence that results in hospitalisation compared to non-Indigenous women (ANROWS 2014). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been expected to disproportionately impact upon Indigenous women at risk of or experiencing domestic or family violence. In this report Women’s Safety NSW has brought the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Domestic and Family Violence Workers from right across NSW together to provide a picture of what is actually happening on the ground and what is needed to respond to this urgent crisis.

In order to compile this report, Women’s Safety NSW undertook a series of surveys and forums of Indigenous frontline workers, coordinators and services in metropolitan, regional and remote locations across NSW to ascertain how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting Indigenous women and their children experiencing domestic and family violence.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline workers have been warning there will be an increase in domestic and family violence. Based on multiple reports from various Indigenous workers representing a wide range of organisations, it is clear that this fear has now been realised. 

Further to this, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander domestic violence workers have expressed genuine concern about not only the health crisis of COVID-19, but also the profound effect the pandemic has had on Indigenous women and our communities. This report will outline the key issues emerging following the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on the effects being felt by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Key Points

  • Indigenous women are more at risk of experiencing violence and are experiencing violence at high levels of severity.
  • Frontline Aboriginal domestic and family violence specialists have reported an increase in client numbers since the beginning of COVID-19.
  • Half of the survey respondents reported an increase in the complexity of their Indigenous client’s needs since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • The inability to attend cultural support groups and women prioritising basic needs over safety are significant issues experienced by Indigenous clients since the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Access to support/ case management for complex needs and ongoing accommodation identified as two imperative service gaps for Indigenous women and children. 
  • Indigenous frontline workers engaging online with fellow Indigenous colleagues across the state has been identified as being of increased importance during isolation.

Download Full Report HERE.