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Domestic violence services are being ramped up to support victims and their families as the state responds to the coronavirus threat.

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said there’s been a 75% in domestic violence searches since the pandemic hit Australian shores.

“We know from overseas experience, the coronavirus for example in China has seen a dramatic spike in domestic and family violence,” Mr Speakman said.

“We’re hearing from frontline services that they are seeing an increase in contact from victim survivors of domestic and family violence.”

“We’ve seen for example with Google searches there’s been a 75% increase in searches about domestic and family violence.”

While the state braces for the surge of reported cases, Mr Speakman said “interestingly” the number of calls received by domestic violence hotlines has decreased.

“We don’t know why that is but we can speculate because victim survivors will find it difficult to access services in private without a perpetrator surveying them or they decline to access those services because they can’t safely or privately,” he said.

NSW Police has ramped up its efforts to combat violence in the home – launching more proactive operations to enforce protection orders.

In a press conference in Sydney today Police Minister David Elliott put perpetrators on notice.

“It’s only a matter of time before police come knocking on your door if you continue to abuse those you claim to love,” Minister Elliott said.

“Police are not only on the beat ensuring the public complies with public health orders, they’re also conducting thousands of Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) compliance checks to keep victims safe.”

The NSW Government continues to adapt as the COVID-19 emergency evolves, with various justice, housing and policing responses to combat domestic violence.

The State’s housing response includes the following additional government support:

  • $14.3 million investment to increase the supply and flexibility of temporary accommodation across NSW, including accommodation suitable for self-isolation.
  • $20 million commitment to accelerate pathways for existing clients and priority social housing applicants to secure stable housing in the private rental market – including more than 350 Rent Choice Start Safely packages dedicated to women and children escaping domestic and family violence.
  • Financial support covering the costs of additional staffing for homelessness providers , such as casual workers or overtime.

“Further changes may be necessary as the COVID-19 crisis continues, but if you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic or family violence, multiple services are available to provide immediate support,” Mr Speakman said.

Available services include:

  • 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is a confidential information, counselling and support service;
  • NSW Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) is a statewide telephone crisis counselling and referral service for women;
  • Men’s Referral Service (1300 766 491) provide telephone counselling, information and referrals for men;
  • Link2Home (1800 152 152) can help refer women experiencing domestic violence to crisis accommodation; and
  • Lifeline (13 11 14) is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
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