Support always there throughout lockdown

August 2, 2021 BY

SAFV Centre CEO Helen Bolton wants the community to know there is always access to family violence support regardless of lockdowns or other restrictions.

THE Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre has continued to deliver essential specialist services to people across the region throughout the COVID-19 lockdown.

The doors have remained opened at the Geelong West centre for in-person support, and staff also maintain the vital service via phone and online – in and out of lockdown restrictions.

Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre chief executive officer Helen Bolton said it was important people knew they could call in, and that specialist practitioners were also available on the phone, video call, email and webchat if they needed to talk to someone.

“This is a tough time for everyone,” she said. “But stress and hardship are never excuses for violence.”

Ms Bolton said Geelong’s SAFV had seen an increase in women, children and young people accessing its specialist family violence case management support.

“Demand has more than doubled over the last six months above what we are funded to provide in the Barwon area,” she said.

“The key contributors to this increase is due to a rise in physical violence, sexual violence, controlling behaviour, psychological abuse, verbal abuse and financial abuse from the perpetrator since the outbreak of COVID-19.

“With such a substantial increase in the amount of women, children and young people seeking support for family violence case management, it highlights the significance case management provides to those impacted by family violence.

“Case management support includes identifying the level of risk, safety planning, crisis accommodation and refuge, court support and collaboration with other support services.

“In our 2020 Practitioners Report, 62 per cent of practitioners said clients experienced an escalation in the severity of types of violence, including strangulation, while 72 per cent of workers said clients experienced violence specifically linked to COVID-19.”

Ms Bolton said research showed there were likely more women and children experiencing family violence in the community who don’t feel safe to reach out for support.

“In our 2020 Practitioners Report, clients who live in the same home as the perpetrator, indicated to practitioners that they felt like they couldn’t leave the house because they were living and working under the same roof, with little opportunity to leave and no access to support from friends and family,” she said.

“Due to the increased time at home, clients had to be more vigilant and use de-escalation strategies.

“If you or someone you know needs help; our team is here to support you.”

According to the Crime Statistics Agency, in the year ending March 31, 2021, Victoria recorded the highest number of family incidents on record.

CSA reported the number of family incidents increased 8.2 per cent in that 12 months to the highest on record at 92,999 incidents, as did the rate of family incidents of 1,389.1 incidents per 100,000 Victorians.

People can contact SAFV on 5222 4318, via email at [email protected], in person at 59-63 Spring Street, Geelong West, or webchat at safvcentre.org.au/webchat.

For support after hours, contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (24 hours) on 1800 806 292 or safe steps (24 hours) on 1800 015 188.

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