Statistics from local domestic violence services have confirmed the frightening predictions of the impact of COVID-19 on those at risk of, and subjected to, family violence in our local community.
The Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (“WDVCAS”) have reported that between 30 March 2020 and 8 April 2020 (a period of only 9 days):
• They have received 238 new referrals, made up of 128 from the Newcastle/Port Stephens area and 110 from the Lake Macquarie area;
• Referrals have increased by approximately 30 to 35%;
• There has been a marked increase in violence being reported for the first time; and
• The complexity of the referrals has increased, including violence perpetrated by young people on their parents and caregivers, often acting out against parental instructions to stay-at-home.
Even more frighteningly, the statistics above:
a) come from only one domestic violence service; and
b) relate only to referrals of women.
When referrals of men in circumstances of domestic violence are considered, together with referrals to other services, the statistics are even higher.
While many local domestic violence services have been forced to work from home to comply with government directives, they continue to provide services and assistance and their message is clear: we remain open for business and we are here to help.