Domestic violence support during COVID-19 crisis
Police and domestic violence frontline services remain at the ready to support victims and their families as the state continues to respond to the coronavirus threat.
Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said survivors could be confident that support services and the NSW Police Force are prepared and ready to respond if they need help.
“As citizens cooperate with social distancing directions, self-isolation and quarantine, there is an associated risk that domestic and family violence will increase,” Mr Speakman said.
“Victims have a right to live a life free from violence every single day. When it’s safe to do so, I urge them to contact our hard working frontline services for support.”
Minister for Police David Elliott said police had ramped up their efforts to combat violence in the home, including more proactive operations to enforce protection orders.
“I’m putting perpetrators on notice. It’s only a matter of time before police come knocking on your door if you continue to abuse those you claim to love,” Minister Elliott said.
“Police are not only on the beat ensuring the public complies with public health orders, they’re also conducting thousands of Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) compliance checks to keep victims safe.”
NSW Police Force Domestic Violence Corporate Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Mark Jones, said police will continue monitoring rates of domestic violence across the state.
“Specially trained police will continue targeting high-risk and repeat offenders to ensure that all orders are strictly followed and complied with and offenders are arrested if violence is detected,” Assistant Commissioner Jones said.
“Police are also able to vary existing interim or final ADVOs without needing to first go to court, if we know that violence is escalating, so that victims are immediately protected.
“NSW Police are working together with government agencies, including NSW Health, to ensure there is no increased health risk to the community.
“As always, if you witness domestic or family violence, call the police – the information you provide might just save someone’s life,” Assistant Commissioner Jones said.
The NSW Government continues to adapt as the COVID-19 emergency evolves, which includes various justice, housing and policing responses to combat domestic violence.
In the Local Court, the Chief Magistrate has made the following changes:
- increased use of audio visual link technology
- restricting physical attendance at court, where legally represented
- streamlining bail processes, localised to certain metro and regional local courts
- defended hearings where the accused is in custody, adjourned for eight weeks
- police providing court dates of three months from issuing Field Court Attendance Notices.
The NSW Government also last week passed amendments in parliament to enable Provisional ADVOs to remain in place for up to six months, if the court cannot consider them earlier. This coincides with reforms that extend the default duration of ADVOs made by a court from one year to two years.
Domestic violence survivors and their families make up a significant proportion of those who are, or at risk of, homelessness. The State’s housing response includes the following additional government support:
- $14.3 million investment to increase the supply and flexibility of temporary accommodation across NSW, including accommodation suitable for self-isolation
- $20 million commitment to accelerate pathways for existing clients and priority social housing applicants to secure stable housing in the private rental market — including more than 350 Rent Choice Start Safely packages dedicated to women and children escaping domestic and family violence
- financial support covering the costs of additional staffing for homelessness providers, such as casual workers or overtime.
“Further changes may be necessary as the COVID-19 crisis continues, but if you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic or family violence, multiple services are available to provide immediate support,” Mr Speakman said.
Available services include:
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a confidential information, counselling and support service
- NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) is a statewide telephone crisis counselling and referral service for women
- Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491) provide telephone counselling, information and referrals for men
- Link2Home (1800 152 152) can help refer women experiencing domestic violence to crisis accommodation
- Lifeline (13 11 14) is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.