Domestic violence victim-survivors will have more vital help available during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the NSW and Federal Nationals in Government investing more than $21 million to boost frontline services and other supports.

The investment comprises $12.8 million from the state and $8.8 million from the Commonwealth. This funding is vital as the pandemic has potentially increased the risk of abuse in already violent homes.

NSW Nationals Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said every person had the right to live a life free from violence and these funds will benefit all victims seeking support.

“This investment will help highly vulnerable people right across NSW, particularly Aboriginal, multicultural and regional and remote women, who face extra barriers when they take the courageous step of reporting their abuse,” Mrs Taylor said.

Tackling the problem

Strict health orders in recent weeks have told people to stay home to help slow the spread of COVID-19. But domestic violence victims don’t have a safe home to begin with, so more have sought assistance and are presenting with more complex needs. This package responds to a range of issues raised with the Government to help protect women and children and ultimately to save lives.

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said the Australian Government moved quickly to commit $150 million to support states and territories and ensure services had the capacity to manage the fallout of the pandemic.

“Programs that provide safer housing, emergency accommodation, counselling, crisis support, helpline support, behaviour change programs and interventions, as well as responding to challenges in rural and remote locations are the priority,” Senator Ruston said.

“We are working closely with all states and territories to identify funding priorities and to find the best way forward to improve support for those at-risk of violence.”

Helen Silvia, Chairperson of Domestic Violence NSW (DVNSW) the state’s peak body for specialist domestic violence services, welcomed the Government’s funding and said it would help support victim-survivors during the pandemic and recovery period.

“Our members have reported increased complexity working with women experiencing domestic violence, while our workforce and services are also facing more pressures due to COVID-19, so these funds will certainly help to alleviate that,” Ms Silvia said.