Video | Family violence on the rise | F.A.C.E COVID-19

It has been six weeks since Australian governments escalated the response to the global Coronavirus pandemic with the announcement of Stage 2 restrictions – and over a month since the further lock down to Stage 3 restrictions.

For some people in our community who already worked in isolation there may have been very little impact. For others this lock down has turned their world upside down, completely transformed their daily routines, significantly impacted their finances and meant spending much more time at home with their families.

Unfortunately, many people in our community live with significant risk of family violence and domestic or elder abuse. Increases in stress due to this social isolation situation can unfortunately trigger this behaviour and place families in more danger.

We have heard of an increases of violence and abuse towards our police, healthcare workers and even supermarket workers. Now as the days tick by domestic violence workers are also seeing a jump in family violence cases.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000. Or if it is safe to do so, for help and support contact safe steps 24/7 crisis service on 1800 015 188.


Further information from the Victorian Government’s Department of Health and Human Services;

Protecting Victorians remains a top priority for government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. Family violence frontline services, including crisis accommodation, police and courts continue to operate to support women, children and families during the coronavirus emergency.

  • All family violence, sexual assault and Orange Door services are operating and continue to deliver critical functions.
  • Safe steps is the state-wide access point for those who need to leave a violent situation and access emergency crisis accommodation. Call safe steps on 1800 015 188 for help 24/7
  • Victoria Police continue to address and prevent family violence as a priority. The police response remains unchanged, identifying risks and taking the appropriate action to hold perpetrators to account and keep victims safe.
  • If people involved in a family violence incident present with compromised health issues, police will take a risk-based approach for safety and wellbeing. Where police assess the risks and either the victim or  the perpetrator need to be removed from the home, standard procedures will still apply. Where required, police will notify the receiving services if that person has been self-isolating.
  • All Magistrates’ Courts are open. Family Violence matters – including Family Violence Intervention Orders – continue to be heard, with urgent and high-risk matters being prioritised. Telephone appearances for family violence matters will be introduced where appropriate, and support services will be provided over the phone where possible. Applications for family violence intervention orders can be made via the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website if it is safe to do so. Applications can still be made in person at Court if that is the safest option.
  • Perpetrator accountability continues during the coronavirus emergency: social isolation is no excuse for violence. Police will respond in the same way as they would in a non-coronavirus environment. The Men’s Referral Service continues to provide help and support for people concerned about their own behaviour on 1300 766 491.


How can I access family violence support services?

  • You can call safe steps on 1800 015 188 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for family violence help and support.
  • The Orange Door service continues to operate during the coronavirus outbreak from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday in:
    • Barwon (1800 312 820)

The Orange Door website also has lots of helpful information if you’re feeling unsafe, need more support with the care of children or are worried about how someone close to you is treating you.

Supporting resources


Other key contacts

Information and support to help you manage the effects of crime and guide you through the legal process:

If you have formed a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse and their parent has not or is unlikely to protect them from harm of that type:

Crisis counselling service for people who have experienced both past and recent sexual assault:

Service that works with men who use violence, to support them to change:

Private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25:

  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Resources, tips and advice on having and maintaining healthy relationships as well as support for those experiencing family violence:

  • w/respect – 1800 542 847 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and after hours support until 11pm each Wednesday. 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sundays)

Telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns:

  • MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or via their online webchat


Feeling unsafe or need advice? Help is at hand

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and self-isolation requirements may impact you or your family. There may be financial pressure, family tensions or a heightened sense of uncertainty and anxiety. No matter what the external stressors, violence should not be tolerated.
  • Has the behaviour of your partner or family member/s made you feel threatened or unsafe? Family violence can include emotional abuse, financial abuse, physical or sexual violence, and coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include abusers restricting your movements, access to communication technology or isolating you from friends or family.
  • You are not alone. If you feel frightened or are needing advice, help and support, or a safe place to stay during the coronavirus situation there are organisations that will provide assistance.
  • It may be very difficult to reach out for assistance during the coronavirus emergency. Be assured that you have the right to feel safe, access medical support and maintain contact with friends and family. You also have the right to leave the house and won’t be fined if you do so.
  • When it’s safe to do so, contact or have someone you know contact safe steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188 or email so you can plan for your and your children’s safety – regardless of whether you want to stay in the relationship or leave.


Stay connected and have a safety plan

In case of emergency – call 000

  • To protect against spreading coronavirus, we need people to stay at home. If it is not safe at home, talk to friends or family about staying somewhere else for a while. You may wish to check if anyone in that house is self-isolating. If this isn’t an option, call safe steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188 or email for support and advice about finding safe accommodation.
  • If you can, stay connected to family and friends through social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal. Decide on a ‘safe word’ or signal to use with close friends or family so they know if you need help and to call the police or emergency services.
  • If possible, talk through a plan that might help increase your safety and to protect children. Have your friend or family member call safe steps on 1800 015 188 for help with safety planning for you and help setting up a safe word signal during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Pack an emergency bag, with important papers, such as passports and clothes, in case you need to leave in a hurry. You may need to leave it at a friend’s place.


Elder abuse

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, usually a family member.

The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological and/or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised elder abuse as a form of family violence featuring the unique dynamics between the older person and a family member such as an adult child. It can also present as short or long term intimate partner violence, carer abuse or stress and long standing family conflict.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing elder abuse, these services may be of assistance:

Seniors Rights Victoria

  • 1300 368 821
  • Free helpline, legal, advocacy and referral service specialising in elder abuse.


Elder Rights Advocacy

  • 1800 700 600
  • Free service for all Victorians in residential and home care programs providing advocacy, information, support and advice.


Office of the Public Advocate

  • 1300 309 337
  • For information or assistance regarding Enduring Power of Attorney, Guardianship or Administration matters.

If you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation you should ring Victoria Police on 000.

For more information read the Respect Victoria fact sheets.

These resources are also available in other languages via Respect Victoria on the Respect Older – People Call It Out page.

Help or advice for professionals

A secondary consultation for professionals, working with older people and their carers or family, is available from an Elder Abuse Prevention and Response Liaison Officer.  These services are available at one of five health locations that are part of a trial of an Integrated Model of Care For Responding To Suspected Elder Abuse.

You can consult an Elder Abuse Prevention and Liaison Officer about suspected elder abuse.

Please contact a Liaison Officer closest to your catchment area.
Latrobe Community Health Service – mobile: 0427 031 541
Melbourne Health – mobile: 0400 544 530
Monash Health – mobile: 0431 453 950
Peninsula Health – phone: 03 9784 7073
Western Health – mobile: 0423 842 103

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