QEII’s Social Work team has kicked off their participation in the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign this week with a show of orange in keeping with the event’s global theme for 2020: "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!"
Senior Social Worker Louise Mills said there has never been a more pertinent time to raise awareness of domestic and family violence (DFV) in the community and work towards positive change, explaining that COVID-19 containment measures have led to a spike in cases.
“There has been a significant increase in domestic and family violence (DFV) presentations since June 2020 compared to previous years and previous year trends,” she said.
“Financial stress has been magnified this year due to COVID-19, and with Christmas approaching and school holidays beginning, this financial stress is only expected to increase and exacerbate already challenging DFV relationships and situations.”
Ms Mills said responding to DFV during COVID-19 has meant the Social Work team has had to adapt their service to encompass new discharge barriers and challenges for women and children seeking to escape from DFV circumstances.
“In planning exit strategies for clients, we have had to take account of the fact that many perpetrators and victims have been residing in the home together more frequently due to working from home arrangements and lockdown measures, which has made leaving their violent circumstances more difficult.
“Because community services have been providing more online and phone-based support, there has also been a decrease in financial means and access to financial support and a reduction in the ability of victims to access their usual social networks and support systems.
“The pandemic has also created significant barriers for victims seeking to access Queensland Police Service (QPS) support in terms of attending stations to complete statements and waiting to speak with police in hospital prior to receiving COVID-19 swab results.”
Ms Mills said pandemic-generated unemployment and financial stress has also encouraged more people to consume alcohol and illicit substances as a coping mechanism, concurrently promoting an increase in the frequency and severity of DFV.
“COVID-19 has created an environment of significant uncertainty this year and we are doing what we can to help women experiencing DFV to make their way through it. Our message to any woman experiencing violence at home is you are not alone. We are here for you.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing DFV reach out to the QEII Social Work team.