- Australian Government Department of Social Services
For many people, including victim-survivors of family violence, being at home is not always a safe place.
Family violence incidents are likely to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many people, public health and community containment measures introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19 such as social distancing and self-isolation, as well as increased financial insecurity and reduced ability to leave relationships, may increase their risk of family violence.
A safety plan is a personalised, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave.
Public health measures that are in place to contain COVID-19 might require you and your family to stay home where possible and have limited social contact. Having a safety plan can help you to protect yourself during this difficult time. The best way to make a safety plan is in consultation with a support service, in particular a specialist family violence service.
Things to consider for increasing safety during a family violence crisis:
- If you sense trouble or find yourself in an argument, move to a 'lower risk space': rooms with two exits and fewer things that can be used as weapons, where you can be seen or heard from the outside.
- Kitchens, bathrooms and garages are more dangerous than living rooms, dining rooms or bedrooms. Learn - and teach your children - to get positioned 'between trouble and the door'.
- Teach the children how to call police 000 and to know their home address.
- Where possible have a charged phone and a back-up plan in case you are separated from your phone, for example, have a hidden second phone.
- Create signals and/or code words that will let your children know to get out and go to a pre-arranged place of safety.
- Create signals that will let your neighbours/family members know to create a supportive or defusing presence or call 000. For example, a turned-on porch light, drawn shade.
- Have an escape plan and back-up. Rehearse getting out in the dark and with the children. Keep spare keys and important documents where you can get to them readily. Have some money stashed away for emergencies.
- Consistent with their age, their instincts and their skills, develop safety plans for the children - about calling help or getting to a place where they will be safer.
- Do whatever it is you need to do to buy time and/or space, to defuse the situation, or to protect yourself and your children.
- Be extra mindful of good hygiene practices: wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, minimise contact with surfaces that other people have had contact with.
- Travel restrictions may impact your escape or safety plan – it may not be safe for you to use public transportation or interstate flights may be cancelled.
- Think about the types of essential services you may come into contact with during the COVID-19 restrictions (such as school, GP and other healthcare services, post office, supermarkets) and how you can use them as part of your safety plan.
- Your plan should be flexible enough to enable you to implement contingency plans if your original plan becomes unfeasible.
For more information about how to make a safety plan and to access online safety planning support, visit the 1800 RESPECT “Safety planning” web page.
Listed below are factsheets developed as part of a series fromLegal Aid NSWthat aim to help answer questions about COVID-19 and family law:
COVID-19: It's not safe for me to stay at home - what should I do?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be harder for you to find a time when it is safe to leave your home because of family and domestic violence. This factsheet provides information about things you should consider when making a plan to leave.
COVID-19: Are you worried about domestic and family violence?
Domestic and family violence can become worse during a crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be worried about your safety, or the safety of someone you know. This factsheet has information about keeping safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19: Apprehended domestic violence orders
Domestic and family violence can become worse during a crisis. Police can make an application in court for an apprehended domestic violence order to keep you and your children safer.
COVID-19: Child support and family payments
If care arrangements for your child change or your income changes because of COVID-19, this could affect your child support assessment and family tax benefit payments. This factsheet aims to help answer your questions.
COVID-19: Financial stress for separating families
Separation can be a time of financial stress for many families, and many people have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This factsheet offers tips for dealing with financial stress when you are going through separation.
COVID-19: Mediation by telephone
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes in the way family law courts operate. This factsheet is about how a mediation, or family dispute resolution conference, can help you resolve your family law problems quickly and without the need to go to court.
Reach out for help
While people are encouraged to stay at home, it is important that you know you can reach out for support. Specialist family violence services are open and available for support and advice for anyone experiencing family violence who is worried about how potential self-isolation or quarantine will impact on their safety and wellbeing.
In the event of an emergency call
Burwood Police station
Contact Number - 9745 8499
National sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service
- 1800RESPECT will continue to operate as usual during the COVID-19 health emergency.
- They are open 24 hours to support people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Contact Number - 1800 737 732
Interpreter - 131450
Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services
WDVCASs provide women and their children with information, advocacy and safety planning where appropriate. They provide referrals to services including housing, counselling, financial assistance or health services.
A number of WDVCASs work with solicitors from theDomestic Violence UnitorDomestic Violence Practitioner Scheme, who can provide legal advice on matters including:
- Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs)
- financial advice
- family law
- and other issues
Contact Number – 1800 938 227 (1800 WDWCAS)
Legal Aid NSW Domestic Violence Unit
While legal aid NSW Domestic Violence Unit are not currently providing their usual face-to-face services, advice and duty services are availableover the phoneto clients who are experiencing domestic violence and need help with any of the following issues:
- Duty representation in the Family Court;
- Duty representation in some ADVO lists in the Local Court (including for defendants who are primary victims of violence)
- Family law (Parenting and property issues);
- Care & Protection;
- Child Support;
- Victim’s Support; and
- Other legal issues the client is having because of domestic violence
The Legal Aid DV team is made up oflawyers, social workersandfinancial counsellorswho work collaboratively to support clients.
Contact Number - 9219 6300
Burwood Community Welfare Services
Support women who are affected by domestic and family violence:
- Refer clients to appropriate agencies
- Help with practical needs where possible
- Phone counselling is available
- Case work caseworker can contact Legal Aid ask for advice on behalf of the client
They are still supporting clients by scheduling appointments and then conductingon the phone.
Contact Number -9744 1866
Metro Assist Family teamare still providing the following
- Casework support for any families, youth and children who may be vulnerable and experiencing difficulties.
- Our Psychologist is also taking referral for children, youth and families
- Community team will be setting up support groups via our Face Book page. If any community member is interested please email Geneve.OConnor@metroassist.org.au
Contact Number – 97981700
If families, youth or children would like to access our service please contact us on 9798 1700 9am till 5pm Monday to Friday.