20 August 2021

Spike in demand for domestic violence support as Canberra's lockdown continues

| Dominic Giannini
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Domestic violence support

There is increasing demand on DVCS as Canberra’s lockdown continues. Photo: File.

The Domestic Violence Crisis Service in Canberra is working overtime to keep up with demand as the Territory’s lockdown moves into its second week.

There is an increasing need for emergency accommodation to support people escaping domestic and family violence and the organisation is continuing to field a large number of calls as Canberrans find themselves stuck at home with more than the usual level of contact with perpetrators.

DVCS CEO Sue Webeck said, while the increasing number of calls was good in that it meant people were able to reach out for support, the organisation was working overtime to ensure their needs were met.

“We are currently working in our usual service delivery capacity to meet this need and working with the domestic, family violence sector and housing and homelessness sector to plan, if the need arises, to respond outside of existing capacity,” she told Region Media.

“Unlike the last lockdown, we are continuing to receive a large volume of calls and requests for support and information.

“This is good, people are able to reach out for the support they need, it means the consistent messaging of government, police and the non-government sector [of] ‘we are here and we are able to support people during this lockdown’ is cutting through.”

READ MORE Forced to sleep in cars: emergency housing crisis for domestic violence victims

Just months before the lockdown, Canberra was already experiencing a strain on emergency housing for people experiencing domestic violence, with Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) principal solicitor Claudia Maclean saying the situation was at crisis point.

Victims of domestic abuse and violence who attend WLC have been told they could not access emergency accommodation for up to two weeks.

DVCS is able to provide emergency short term accommodation for people in need and typically manages two to four people in crisis accommodation at a time but this can spike to more than 20 or 30 people during busy periods such as over Christmas.

Sue Webeck CEO DVCS

DVCS CEO Sue Webeck says the full extent of the lockdown’s impact on the rate of domestic violence is not yet known. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The organisation will not be able to assess the full extent of the lockdown’s impact on people suffering from domestic and family violence for a few more weeks.

“We won’t know the full extent of the service demand until such time that we can map it over a couple of weeks and come up for some air to pull this together,” Ms Webeck said.

“Right now we are in the business of working to provide seamless support to anyone and everyone who calls our service impacted by violence.

“We are committed to working with our partners across the non-government sector, government, police and hospitals to ensure we best serve the ACT community through this public health response.”

The ACT Government has just announced further support for the sector during the lockdown, pledging an additional $200,000 for a range of crisis and emergency supports including domestic and family violence services and $260,000 to extend a range of existing mental health supports delivered by the community sector.

READ ALSO Behind the scenes inside the Domestic Violence Crisis Service

If you are experiencing domestic, family or intimate partner violence, or you are concerned about some of your own behaviour with your family, you are encouraged to contact the Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

If you are worried about a friend, you can also contact DVCS 24 hours, seven days a week on 62 800 900, via SMS on 0421 268 492, through email at crisis@dvcs.org.au or online at dvcs.org.au where a confidential contact form is also available.

1800Respect, Australia’s 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, is also available on 1800 737 732.

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