Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Children Experiencing Domestic and Family Violence and Frontline Domestic and Family Violence Services
Funded by the NSW Government through Legal Aid NSW, and by members, donors and other project funders, Women’s Safety NSW is a peak representative body for women’s specialist domestic and family violence services in New South Wales. The purpose of the organisation is to drive policy, practice and law reform that will result in women and children’s safety, justice and well-being in the context of domestic and family violence.
Women’s Safety NSW conducted a survey of frontline workers, coordinators and service providers to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) responses in NSW, as well as to acquire input on what measures are necessary to efficiently respond to the crisis. This report summarises the findings of the survey.
- Key issues facing DV survivors
- Service gaps for clients
- Key issues facing services
- Additional support required for service providers
- Key issues facing workers
- Transitionig to remote service provision
- Workplace health and safety measures
- Additional support required
- Need for government response
- Concluding remarks
- Survey respondents identified the following as being key issues affecting clients in the context of COVID-19:
- 2% identified insufficient service availability
- 2% identified women prioritising material needs and concerns over their own safety
- 9% identified escalating and worsening violence
- 2% identified that women were reporting violence and abuse related to the COVID-19 crisis (e.g. financial pressures or other stresses)
- 9% identified violence beginning to occur for the first time
- Survey respondents reported they have already perceived an increase in the complexity of client needs since the outbreak of COVID-19.
- The outbreak of COVID-19 complicates women and children’s experience of DFV and poses challenges to the frontline services that respond to it.
- The advent of COVID-19 and shutdown of non-essential services has placed added strain on frontline DV services.
- Service providers require additional resources, funding, and instruction to ensure they can support women and children affected by domestic violence without compromising the health and safety of staff.
- Staff working for frontline services are further affected by changed working conditions and the added complexities of supporting vulnerable clients in the context of COVID-19.
- For many workers, the transition to working remotely has been an abrupt one and has presented challenges to productivity and staff well-being.
- Despite the widespread move towards remote service provision, many services are continuing to function with some or all staff coming into the workplace.
- Survey respondents also reported that they have effective measures in place to address health safety for face to face service provision.
- Frontline workers are in urgent need of increased support. Additional safeguards and resources are required to enable staff to continue with their crucial work, whether this is being done remotely or from within the workplace.
- The spread of COVID-19 has had unprecedented impacts on those experiencing domestic and family violence and has put significant pressure on the services and staff working to help those in need of support.
This report was originally published on the Women’s Safety NSW website.