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Report: Impacts of COVID-19 on Domestic and Family Violence as Restrictions Ease

In March and April 2020, Women’s Safety NSW published two reports detailing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and children experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV). Over two months have passed since the introduction of strict social distancing and self-isolation measures in NSW, which raised significant concerns about victims of DFV and their ability to seek support. Women’s Safety NSW has undertaken a state-wide survey of frontline workers and services to ascertain the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on domestic violence victims and the services that support them. This report summarises the findings of this survey, which was completed by 43 frontline workers and service providers (25.6% Inner Metropolitan, 37.2% Outer Metropolitan, 32.6% Regional, 4.7% Rural) across NSW from 25-27 May 2020.

Overview of Key Points

  • Many frontline workers report an increase in client numbers and in the percentage of clients facing high levels of risk since the COVID-19 restrictions began to lift.
  • Inconsistency in police responses to DFV has been identified as the most significant service gap.
  • Access to ongoing accommodation, support/case work for clients with complex needs, and income and material needs remain among the top four most commonly identified service gaps.
  • Nearly half of all frontline workers surveyed continue to work entirely from home.
  • Nearly three-quarters of frontline workers surveyed report they are still not providing any face-to-face services to clients.
  • Government action is urgently needed to improve access to support services. Necessary measures include better promotion of DFV services, improved referral pathways, and introduction of more diverse ways for DFV victims to seek assistance.