Guiding principles for primary prevention of family violence and violence against women in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed how we live. The disruption of restrictions and physical distancing has put real pressure on families. Tragically, we’ve seen a surge in demand on family violence response services during this crisis.
Violence doesn’t happen because we’re staying home, however. Family violence and violence against women are driven by inequality, discrimination and marginalisation. Now more than ever, we need to sharpen our focus on stopping violence before it starts. Primary prevention is the only way to reduce the prevalence of violence and demand on response services.
Respect Victoria and colleagues in the family violence prevention and response sectors have developed six guiding principles to help maintain this focus. These principles will ensure consistency in primary prevention efforts during the pandemic. They will help prepare our work for future disasters. They will inform how we "build back better" communities in recovery.
We call on all organisations working to prevent violence to embrace and uphold the following guiding principles in both the crisis and recovery phases of the pandemic:
- Strengthen primary prevention focus across whole of family violence reform effort.
- Build understanding of the impact of intersecting forms of discrimination and disadvantage into all our prevention efforts.
- Uphold the importance of independence and decision-making in public and private life.
- Challenge rigid gender roles, advance gender equality and advocate for respectful gender relationships.
- Engage men to adopt and maintain respectful and non-aggressive behaviours and peer relations.
- Challenge attitudes that condone violence through association with external stressors.
Staying safe during the Coronavirus pandemic
As Victorians, Australians and the world adapt to life amidst a pandemic, Respect Victoria has compiled a Coronavirus (COVID-19) information hub to keep our community informed with up-to-date advice, information and most importantly a comprehensive list of service providers to contact if your safety is compromised while practicing physical distancing and spending an increased amount of time at home.
Recommended family violence support services
Respect Victoria issued a statement about Stage 3 Restrictions, compounded by the multitude of stressors related to Coronavirus that may result in an increase in family violence and violence against women.
Our message is clear. No matter what the external stressors, violence is never excusable.
Since tighter restrictions were introduced, the number of calls issued to support services has decreased. This is a sinister statistic. Family violence experts believe the reduction in calls does not mean violence is not occurring. It is possible calls have reduced because victims cannot find a safe moment in the day to call for help.
- Safe Steps is a family violence support centre providing assistance for women, members of the community who identify as female or transfeminine, as well as their children. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, please call 1800 015 188. More information can be found on the Safe Steps website.
- If you are concerned about your behaviour and recognise your actions are putting family members in a harmful environment call the No to Violence Men's Referral Service 1300 766 491. More information can be found on the No to Violence website.
- Seniors Rights Victoria provides information and advice to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights of older people. If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, call their confidential helpline: 1300 368 821. More information can be found on the Senior Rights Victoria website.
Victoria Police are primed and ready to intercept. The taskforce recently convened is to ensure people in quarantine are staying indoors and they have also been trained to identify at risk families.
If you are experiencing family violence, are concerned for your safety, or are in an emergency situation please call 000 for urgent police assistance. More information can be found on the family violence page of the Victoria Police website.
Family violence support services for our diverse community
- Djirra is a culturally safe place where culture is celebrated and practical support is available. Call 1800 105 303 or visit the Djirra Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Services website.
- InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence is a specialist family violence service that works with multicultural women, their families and their communities. Call 1800 755 988 or visit the InTouch website.
- Queerspace provides for community, by community counselling. Call Drummond Street Services on (03) 9663 6733 or visit the queerspace website.
- To access a wider range of family violence crisis response information, visit the DHHS family violence crisis response and support portal.
This is new terrain for everybody. If you're feeling anxious visit the beyondblue website for information and advice.
General Coronavirus pandemic information and resources
Resources, information and websites published in this section provide information relevant to the state of Victoria. Understandably, there is a steady stream of media coverage in relation to Coronavirus. We urge people to nominate one or two reputable news outlets and where possible stick to government mandated websites to avoid media over-exposure, confusion, or following unofficial and potentially illegal advice.
To access official Department of Health and Human Services social media channels, including downloadable infographs and social media tiles, visit the DHHS Coronavirus promotional material portal.
To learn more about restricted activities, visit the Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus disease website.
If you suspect you may have the Coronavirus (COVID-19) or are concerned call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398. The hotline is open 24 hours, 7 days.