May Was Domestic Violence Prevention Month: What Did We Learn?
Here in Queensland, May was Domestic Violence Prevention Month. Right now is more important than ever to raise community awareness around domestic violence, particularly as social distancing rules continue in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
We have seen some truly terrifying statistics focusing on the increase of calls, searches and cases for domestic violence. The Federal Government reported an 11 per cent increase (compared to the previous year) in calls to 1800RESPECT, a helpline dedicated to counselling those who have experienced sexual assault and domestic and family violence. Between February and March of 2020, it was also recorded that the MensLine, a counselling service specifically catering to men saw a 34 per cent increase in callers due to family violence concerns. The most concerning statistic from the Government was the 75 per cent increase in Google searches relating to family and domestic violence.
With restrictions in Queensland constantly changing and slowly starting to ease, we feel it is necessary to keep you updated and share with you the latest news. We will also share other sources to rely on during the time, as well as options of what you can do if you experience any form of domestic violence. We urge you: do not suffer in silence – it is important to seek help.
Additional Domestic Violence Measures & Support
It was announced April that the Morrison Government would be rolling out additional measures to ensure families who experience domestic violence know where to go for help during these unprecedented times.
Federal Social Services Minister, Anne Ruston, announced that the Government would commit $150 million to domestic violence support programs who are seeing an increased demand in their services.
The funding will help the following:
• Counselling support for families experiencing domestic violence. This includes men’s behaviour change programs.
• 1800RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling service.
• MensLine Australia, the national counselling service for men.
• Trafficked People Program to support victims of human trafficking, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices.
• Support programs for women and children experiencing domestic violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes.
In Queensland specifically, the Palaszczuk Government also took urgent action in April to provide $5.5 million to help manage the increase in demand of the state’s domestic violence services.
The funding work as follows:
• $1.5 million to boost capacity of the 24/7 crisis service DVConnect. This also includes WomensLine and MensLine and the overall shift to online support during Covid-19.
• $1.7 million for crisis accommodation needs, including transiting women to alternative accommodation.
• $1.8 million to enhance specialist domestic, family and sexual violence services to meet the demand
• $500,000 to support a new awareness campaign
Queensland Police Support for Urgent and Non-Urgent Matters
We saw an incredible amount of support from the Queensland Police Service (QPS) throughout Domestic Violence Prevention Month. The QPS also provided an extensive amount of support for both urgent and non-urgent matters related to domestic violence,
If you are in immediate danger or currently experiencing a domestic violence act, the QPS are advising you to take yourself out the situation as safely as possible and call 000. For non-urgent matters, the QPS are offering numerous ways to seek their help. You can either call them on 131 444 (24/7), or if not safe to do so, you can now make contact with a police station by submitting this new online form. They have also made a SMS messaging service available deaf, hearing impaired or vulnerable people for non-urgent matters. You can register for this service here.
Other Hotlines and Services
There are a number of services that have now expanded their offerings and availability – during Domestic Violence Prevention Month, but also through the pandemic and beyond.
DV Connect continue to be available 24/7 for support with an added health assessment regarding Covid-19. If you require safe accommodation that is not your home, contact the DV Connect WomensLine on 1800 811 811.
1800RESPECT have put together a list of safety planning tips for those who are unable to relocate from their homes due to self-isolation, or for any other reason.
• Contact 1800RESPECT (phone or web chat) when it is safe to do so in your own house. The team will worth with you on creating a safety plan.
• Identify the safest areas in the house, preferably with less dangerous items and a way to escape.
• Make sure your phone is charged, easily accessible and stored with important numbers. If you can, have a back up phone.
• Call 000 if you are in immediate danger. Teach your children how to call 000 if you are unable to do so.
• Let trusted friends (or neighbours) know of your situation and develop a plan (could be a visual sign, sound etc)
• Keep your car fuelled.
• Keep an escape bag with items you may need to take with you (keys, phone charger, important documents, money etc)
• Download apps like Daisy for information regarding safety planning. You should also consider downloading apps like Re-focus and PENDA for legal and financial information surrounding domestic violence. We share more on Re-focus and Penda here.
Some additional domestic violence resources can be found here.
Are Courts Still Operating?
The Queensland Magistrates Courts are still running as usual, however, the only domestic violence-related work the Courts will undertake include:
• Urgent domestic violence applications for Temporary Orders;
• Urgent child protection applications;
• Domestic violence applications currently before the Court which have not been considered;
You may also be able to seek an Ouster condition, which under Section 63 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, prohibits the respondent (person who committed the domestic violence act) from:
• Remaining at the premises;
• Entering or attempting to enter the premises;
• Approaching within a stated distance of the premises.
We advise you to seek legal advice regarding Temporary Orders and Ouster Conditions, especially during Covid-19. Get in touch with us at Pullos for more information.
Domestic Violence Prevention Month Events
For Domestic Violence Prevention Month, many events were postponed due to Covid-19, however, the Queensland Government did still hold a few calendar events in May and in June.
To coincide with Domestic Violence Prevention Month, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer alongside key organisations across the state came together on May 6th for a virtual summit to discuss domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic. Input from the broader Queensland community around this serious issue was highly encouraged by Ms Farmer, with the introduction of Get Involved Survey focusing on how we can better deal with violent situations when forced to spend more time at home. Results are now being considered, and we hope to share the outcome of the survey in due time.
Get in Touch with Pullos Lawyers
If you require more information surrounding Domestic Violence Prevention Month or you have any concerns about your domestic violence situation, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free 15 minute consultation with one of our solicitors on (07) 5526 3646 for our Brisbane office, or on (07) 5526 3646 our Gold Coast office, or by email at [email protected].