With more people staying at home to reduce the community spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), there may be an increased risk for people experiencing family violence or abuse.

Below is information that may be helpful to survivors, those associated with survivors, and professionals in the sector. The information is particularly of relevance to people living on the Border and in the Ovens Murray catchment.

For other information related to COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 webpage.

What is family violence?
Local media campaign and services
Safety planning and safety apps
Family violence crisis response and support
Emergency services
Making a report to child protection
Emergency relief
Webinars and training related to COVID-19
Advocacy
Strategic planning **Survey Monkey currently open for workers and people with lived experience of family violence in the Ovens Murray area
Media coverage and podcasts
Women and disaster resources

What is family violence?

Power and Control Wheel–developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs

This fact sheet by the Lookout, ‘What is Family Violence‘, provides the facts about family violence–what it looks like, who is particularly vulnerable to it, data and effects of family violence.

The Power and Control Wheel, developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, describes common abusive behaviors or tactics. It is a commonly used tool to help figure out whether negatively experienced behaviours could be abuse.

Watch a short video, ‘Power and Control Wheel–Understanding the Power and Control Wheel‘ (2 minutes).

Local media campaign and services

‘Domestic Violence—there is no excuse’

  • A collaboration between AlburyCity and Murray River police, the ‘No Excuse’ campaign calls for victims, perpetrators and witnesses to seek help through the national 24-hour hotlines, 1800 RESPECT or Mensline on 1300 789978.
  • In the first stage of the campaign, three commercials, presented by the Member for Albury, Justin Clancy, will air on four TV channels from late April. For more information, see the AlburyCity media release.
  • To view the 30-second version of the TV commercials, visit YouTube.

Key messages

  • There is a range of local support services to assist with domestic violence, so speak up when you are safe, step in if you’re aware, get help if you’re responsible.
  • Protecting our community remains a top priority during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. Family violence frontline services, including crisis accommodation, police and courts, continue to operate to support women, children, men and families during the coronavirus emergency.
  • All Family Violence support services are available by phone and the police response remains unchanged.
  • Call 000 for Police and Ambulance help if you are in immediate danger.
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help or support, please contact one of the support hotline numbers on the AlburyCity website.

Local services and programs

Help and Support Services: Wodonga

​To find local services near you and programs, please visit:

Safety planning and safety apps

Safety planning

  • Safety planning is thinking about things you can do to be safer when living with violence or abuse.
  • The best way to make a safety plan is with the help of a support service.
  • Trusted friends and family members can also play a role, as well as advocates for older people and people with disability.
  • For more information about what is safety planning, how to make a plan to look after yourself (5-minute video) and how to support someone with safety planning, visit 1800RESPECT online.
  • If you would like support with making a safety plan, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through their online chat service.

Safety apps

Safety apps may help to increase your safety when using devices like mobile phones, iPads and tablets. They can be downloaded to your device. Each app has different information and services—some are linked to where you live. You don’t need to be experiencing violence or abuse to use a safety app.

People can download trusted safety apps that are designed by experts from the iOS App and Google Play stores. A list is available on the 1800RESPECT website. Some examples include Daisy and Sunny.

  • Daisy app provides support to those experiencing violence or abuse and can connect them to services in their local area.
  • Sunny app provides support for women with disability who have experienced violence and abuse.

Family violence crisis response and support

For Victorian family violence crisis response and support during coronavirus, visit the Department of Health and Human Services online. Here you can access the latest updates, the current family violence service status for Victoria, and family violence support services. There is also information for those feeling unsafe or needing advice, on staying connected and having a safety plan, and elder abuse.

Below are statements from several services and peak organisations regarding COVID-19 and family violence. There is also help and advice for survivors; family, friends and neighbours; and family violence professionals.

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV)

The DVRCV’s page on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and family violence has information and advice on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacts those experiencing family violence and their friends and family.

For survivors during coronavirus

If you’re at risk of family violence during the current pandemic, being at home may not be the safest place.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) and family violence
  • Staying safe
  • Children and COVID-19
    • Tips include supporting a regular routine, supporting school-age children to continue education activities, and making a safe space for children at home. Additional tips cover supporting a child with an existing health condition, having family meetings to discuss how you plan to manage being stuck at home together, and having a safety plan in place for you and the children.
    • The What’s Okay at Home website is a resource for children and young people, and their adult allies, to help understand what family violence is, why it happens, how to recognise it and stay safe, and how to help others who are experiencing it. The website includes a tool that young people can use to develop their own safety plan.
  • Reach out for help

For family, friends and neighbours

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) and family violence
  • Supporting friends or family experiencing family violence during COVID-19
  • Safety planning
  • For support

For family violence professionals

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents new, unprecedented concerns and challenges for practitioners and services supporting victim survivors of family violence.
  • To support family violence professionals and others delivering essential services during this difficult period, the DVRCV is working with Domestic Violence Victoria to provide information, resources and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on family violence and COVID-19.
  • This includes FAQs on the incidence of violence during a public health crisis and the pandemic’s effects on service delivery in Victoria.
  • To access the FAQs, please visit The Lookout.

Safe Steps

Service delivery during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak (updated 29 March 2020)—Safe Steps is focused on how they can continue to provide essential services to women and children experiencing family violence. Key information:

  • The Safe Steps 24/7 crisis response phoneline (1800 015 188) will continue to operate as usual. If you cannot safely call the 24/7 phone line, email safesteps@safesteps.org.au
  • Safe Steps will continue to provide Family Violence risk assessments, safety planning and emergency accommodation which complies with all COVID-19 safety measures.
  • If you are afraid or at risk of experiencing family violence, do not hesitate to call Safe Steps for support. They will work with you to find the best options to keep you and your children safe.
  • In case of emergency, call 000.

1800RESPECT

Press release: 1800RESPECT will continue to operate during the COVID-19 health emergency, updated 27 March 2020

Key messages:

  • For those in an unsafe environment, the pressures… that have and will continue to come as a result of COVID-19, could increase the risk of violence and abuse.
  • We want to make very clear that there is never an excuse for violence under any circumstance.
  • It’s critical that those impacted by sexualdomestic and family violence know that support is available.

Key information:

  • 1800RESPECT will continue to operate during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) health emergency, and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • If a person does not feel safe to call 1800RESPECT over the phone, they can speak with our counsellors via webchat.
  • 1800RESPECT counsellors are very experienced in how to sensitively handle contacts from those who are in the same house as the person using violence.
  • People can also download trusted safety apps that are designed by experts from the iOS App and Google Play stores. A list is available on the 1800RESPECT website. Some examples include Daisy and Sunny.
  • The 1800RESPECT website also contains information about the types of violencehow to support people impacted by violence and abuse, and an accessible directory of local support services.
  • In an emergency or if someone is in immediate danger, please call 000.
  • If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.

The Lookout

The Lookout is the recommended one-stop shop for family violence and COVID-19 information. This website is updated regularly by Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) and the Domestic Violence Resources Centre Victoria.

Here you will find answers to FAQs DV Vic has received about COVID-19 and its impact on victim-survivors of family violence.

Abbreviated examples of two FAQs, and additional information, are given below.

FAQ: How does a public health pandemic affect the occurrence of family violence?

‘Research demonstrates that family violence increases after emergency and natural disaster situations such as bushfires, earthquakes and hurricanes. Based on these experiences, we can anticipate that incidences of family violence will also increase during the widespread community outbreak of COVID-19…

‘Research into experiences of family violence post the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, found that family violence increased due to a tendency for people to revert to strict gender norms during times of natural disaster and uncertainty such as men being the protectors and decision makers and women being the carers. These strict gender norms reduce women’s autonomy and can put them and their children at risk. Research also found that women’s experiences of violence tend to be dismissed or excused more often during times of disaster or emergency with statements such as “He is just stressed.”’

Gender & Disaster Pod

For more information on the above-mentioned research, visit the Gender & Disaster Pod (GAD Pod), which was formally established to promote an understanding of the role played by gender in survivor responses to natural disaster, and to embed these insights into emergency management practice.

GAD Pod is an initiative of Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Women’s Health In the North, working in partnership with the Monash University Disaster Resilience Initiative.

FAQ: Working remotely—How to communicate with clients confidentially and safely?

See COVID-19: Resources for DFV Agencies wanting to use technology, Technology Safety Australia: Safer technology for women, Wesnet.

Domestic Violence Victoria

COVID-19 and family violence

‘Our message to all victim–survivors, family and friends, and other service providers is that 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 well-being.’

Key information:   

  • If you feel unsafe or are concerned for someone’s safety, call 000 or contact the police in your state or territory.
  • For confidential crisis support, information and accommodation, call the safe steps 24/7 family violence response line on 1800 015 188.
  • For confidential phone help and referral in Australia, contact 1800RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 737 732.
  • For a specialist LGBTIQ family violence service, contact WithRespect on 1800 LGBTIQ (1800 542 847).

[Links to additional services and apps can be found on HWPCP’s website—COVID-19 Resources.]

‘With the coming weeks of social distancing and increased isolation, while our health and human service systems respond to the unfolding public health crisis, we anticipate there will be increased risks for victim survivors of family violence and unique challenges to the specialist family violence services providing crisis support during this time.  

‘Our knowledge of how a public health emergency like COVID-19 will impact on the dynamics of family violence is new and emerging.  However, what we have learnt from global evidence is that family violence can become more frequent and severe during periods of emergency like the current pandemic.’ 

Respect Victoria

Statement: Preventing family violence during the pandemic, 27 March 2020

‘For families affected by violence, COVID-19 driven self isolation measures can pose increased risk. No matter what the external stressors, violence is never excusable…’

Statement: Staying safe in the current environment, 16 March 2020

‘…For people affected by family violence, social distancing and self-isolation measures can pose increased risk.

‘Being forced to share space with perpetrators for extended periods of time with a backdrop of external stressors including anxiety arising from the state of flux, financial uncertainty (e.g. job losses in the wake of COVID-19), food insecurity (fuelled by panic shopping), and restlessness from changed daily habits and reduced social interaction could lead to a spike in family violence.

‘No matter what the external stressors, violence is never excusable.

‘If you need assistance call 1800RESPECT and speak with a trained counsellor who will listen and support you with what is right for you and your situation, this includes making a safety plan.

‘If you are in immediate danger call 000.’

Emergency services

Victoria Police has provided information on staying safe during the coronavirus restrictions on its ‘Family violence‘ webpage:

  • Victoria Police will act to protect anyone harmed by family violence.
  • …changes to people’s current circumstances may place you at an increased risk, but… Victoria Police continue to respond to family violence matters as a priority.
  • It is okay to seek support on behalf of somebody else. Please reach out and speak up. Victoria Police is here to support you.
  • Everyone has the right to be free of violence or the fear of violence. Everyone deserves to feel safe and respected in their family and relationships.
  • Family violence occurs in all communities, cultures and socio-economic groups and is not acceptable in any part of any culture. Family violence is against the law.
  • There is no excuse for abusing a loved one.

Visit the Victoria Police webpage for more information on discreet help, reporting family violence to police, police assistance at a family violence incident, what the law says, Code of Practice, quick exit button, resources and contacts.

Making a report to child protection

  • To contact Child Protection in Victoria, please see the contact details on the ‘Making a report to child protection‘ webpage of the Department of Health and Human Services (Victorian Government). Note that North East Victoria belongs to East Division intake (1300 360 391).
  • For more information on mandatory reporting, please see the resource sheet, ‘Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect‘ (Child Family Community Australia, 2017), which is available on the Australian Institute of Family Studies website. Key points include:
    • ‘Any person can make a report if they are concerned for a child’s welfare even if they are not required to as a mandatory reporter.’
    • ‘In all jurisdictions, the legislation protects the reporter’s identity from disclosure.’

Emergency relief

  • To access immediate emergency assistance or support for those affected by coronavirus, visit the Australian Government Department of Social Services website.
  • For emergency food relief in Wodonga, Albury and Corowa, please open this spreadsheet which provides a description of the food relief provider, contact details and information on eligibility.
  • For more options for emergency relief, food banks plus other services, visit the HWPCP website—COVID-19 Resources.

Webinars and training related to COVID-19

Recorded webinars

  • The Older Persons Advocacy Network has recorded a handful of COVID-19 Special Edition Webinars. See their website for webinars including this webinar: ‘Reducing the risk of abuse for older people during COVID-19’ (7 May 2020)
  • Bushfire recovery during COVID-19: Looking after yourself, family, friends and community—In this Australian Red Cross webinar, hear disaster expert Dr Rob Gordon talk about how we recover from bushfire while responding to COVID-19. Hear him discuss what to expect in the longer term and answer questions (7 April 2020).

Advocacy

Australian Women Against Violence Alliance

Media statement: Welcome initial funding needs to be followed with further investment in safety, 29 March 2020

‘The national alliance of organisations working to end all forms of violence against women has welcomed the announcement today of $150 million of Federal government funding to support women and children subjected to violence through the coronavirus pandemic, and noted more will be needed to manage this emerging crisis…’

Strategic planning

Are you a worker or person with lived experience of family violence in the Ovens Murray area? Would you have some time to complete a Survey Monkey to help identify priorities to aid strategic planning?

The Ovens-Murray Family Violence Partnership is undertaking a strategic planning process to guide its work over the next three years (2020-2023) and is inviting your input and ideas into its development. The partnership is working towards communities being free from family violence. The strategic plan will include family violence prevention, early intervention and crisis response activities across all age groups, families and communities in its catchment.

The Ovens-Murray Family Violence Partnership wants to gather the knowledge and experience of workers and people with lived experience of family violence from across its catchment – Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Mansfield, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga local government and border areas.

Click here to access the survey—note this survey will now be open until the end of Tuesday 26 May.

Media coverage and podcasts

News stories

Podcasts

Women and disaster resources