For most people, social distancing has meant juggling working from home with home schooling the kids, spending more time indoors and only venturing out for essentials and exercise. But for some people, home is not always the safest place. Social distancing has meant being inside with someone prone to violence, all day, every day.
According to 1800 Respect, measures introduced to flatten the curve will likely result in a spike of incidents of domestic and family violence (DFV). MensLine, a counselling service for men including those who use violence, have also reported a 35 per cent increase in family violence related calls to their support number since the start of COVID.
What’s more, social distancing may leave victims finding it difficult to get the help they need. And even though restrictions are easing, research indicates that unemployment and financial stress are also known to exacerbate incidents of DFV. As more Australians experience hardship due to the coronavirus, there’s growing concern that cases will rise.
The Australian Government’s Help is Here campaign has been launched as part of their $150 million Domestic Violence Support Package. The campaign has two clear messages: that support is here if you need it, and that tough times don’t warrant even tougher times at home.
Even in times like these, it’s important that people are aware there are still avenues open to them where they can seek help. Below are some of the services that continue to operate as normal during the COVID-19 health crisis and are available to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Anyone in immediate danger should call 000.
Medibank has supported 1800 Respect since it began in 2010. This national service offers confidential information, counselling and support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse. They continue to operate as usual. The counsellors are also fully trained in dealing with situations where a caller may live with the violent person.
The website features information for people at risk, such as how to create a safety plan.
And if you’re worried someone you know or care about is experiencing family violence, you can also find information here or contact the support number for advice on what you can do to help.
1800 Respect’s highly trained and qualified counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 737 732.
Every State and Territory in Australia also offers a domestic violence support service. You can find the contact details for yours here.
Anyone impacted by domestic and family violence can download the safety app, Daisy. This app provides support to those experiencing violence or abuse and can connect them to services in their local area.
Help for men is available anytime, anywhere through MensLine Australia. This free service offers national telephone or online counselling as well as helpful information on topics related to men’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
Men who are experiencing or using violence can also contact the service for counselling 24/7 on 1300 78 99 78.
Medibank 24/7 Nurse and Mental Health Support
*OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.