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Family violence crisis response and support during coronavirus

Are you experiencing family violence, or are you concerned about someone who is experiencing family violence? Support is available during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

You can leave your home to escape family violence during coronavirus (COVID-19)

It is important to know that you can still leave your home or accommodation to escape harm or the risk of harm relating to family violence under any coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. You will not be fined if you do so. There are accommodation options for accessing safe housing during isolation. Call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 for help or use their web chat support service available 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday.

  • If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.
  • You can still leave your home or accommodation to escape harm or the risk of harm relating to family violence under any coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. You will not be fined if you do so.
  • Or if it is safe to do so, for help and support contact Safe Steps 24/7 crisis service on 1800 015 188.
  • Or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au. The Safe Steps web chat support service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm.

Whatever your situation, help is available.

Family violence statewide support services

What is family violence?

Family violence is emotional abuse, financial abuse, physical or sexual violence, and coercive, controlling or emotionally or psychologically abusive behaviour from a person in your family or an intimate partner. This can include abusers restricting your movement or isolating you from friends or family. Family violence can make you feel afraid for your own safety or wellbeing, or for a family member.

Current family violence service status

Protecting Victorians remains a top priority for government during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Family violence frontline services, including crisis accommodation, police and courts continue to operate to support women, children and families during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • All family violence, sexual assault and The Orange Door services are operating and continue to deliver critical functions.
  • Safe Steps is the state-wide access point for those who need to leave a violent situation and access emergency crisis accommodation. Call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 for help 24/7 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au. The Safe Steps web chat support service is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm.
  • Victoria Police continue to address and prevent family violence as a priority. The police response remains unchanged; identifying risks and taking the appropriate action to hold perpetrators to account and keep victims safe.
  • All Magistrates’ Courts are open. Family violence matters – including Family Violence Intervention Orders – continue to be heard, with urgent and high-risk matters being prioritised. Telephone appearances for family violence matters will be introduced where appropriate, and support services will be provided over the phone where possible. Applications for family violence intervention orders can be made via the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website if it is safe to do so. Applications can still be made in person at Court if that is the safest option. Legal Help is available on 1300 792 387 – Victoria Legal Aid can provide advice and put you in touch with local community legal service support.
  • The Men’s Referral Service continues to provide help and support for men at risk of using family violence on 1300 766 491.
  • Perpetrator accountability continues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: social isolation is no excuse for violence. Police will respond in the same way as they would in a non-coronavirus environment.
  • Sexual Assault support services are continuing to provide essential support for those impacted by sexual assault. If you need help, call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.
  • If people involved in a family violence incident present with compromised health issues, police will take a risk-based approach for safety and wellbeing. Where police assess the risks and either the victim or the perpetrator need to be removed from the home, standard procedures will still apply. Where required, police will notify the receiving services if that person has been self-isolating.

How to access family violence support services for yourself or someone you know

Supporting resources

Other key contacts

Victims of Crime Helpline

  • 1800 819 817 or text 0427 767 891 (8am to 11pm, every day)
  • Information and support for adult male victims of family violence and victims of violent crime

Child Protection

  • 13 12 78 (After hours 5pm to 9am Monday to Friday, 24 hours on weekends and public holidays). During business hours contact the child protection intake service for the child’s area. Find child protection contact information here.
  • Support for if you have a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse and their parent has not or is unlikely to protect them from harm of that type.

Sexual Assault Crisis Line

  • 1800 806 292 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • Crisis counselling service for people who have experienced both past and recent sexual assault.

Men’s Referral Service

  • 1300 766 491 (8am to 9pm Monday to Friday; 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday)
  • Free, confidential expert support for men at risk of using family violence

Kids Helpline

  • 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • Private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

w/respect

  • 1800 542 847 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and after hours support until 11pm each Wednesday. 10am to 10pm on Saturday and Sundays)
  • Resources, tips and advice for LGBTIQ+ people on having and maintaining healthy relationships as well as support for those experiencing family violence.

MensLine Australia

  • 1300 78 99 78 or 03 8371 2851 or webchat (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • Telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns.

InTouch

  • 1800 755 988 (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)
  • Free and confidential support services for migrant and refugee women.

Seniors Rights Victoria

  • 1300 368 821 (10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Free and confidential support services to support older Victorians experiencing abuse.

Feeling unsafe or need advice? Help is at hand

  • The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and self-isolation requirements may impact you or your family. There may be financial pressure, family tensions or a heightened sense of uncertainty and anxiety. No matter what the external stressors, violence should not be tolerated.
  • Has the behaviour of your partner or family member/s made you feel threatened or unsafe? Family violence can include emotional abuse, financial abuse, physical or sexual violence, and coercive and controlling behaviour. This can include abusers restricting your movements, access to communication technology or isolating you from friends or family.
  • You are not alone. If you feel frightened or need advice, help or support, or a safe place to stay during the pandemic there are organisations that will provide assistance.
  • It may be very difficult to reach out for help during the pandemic. Be assured that you have the right to feel safe, access medical support and maintain contact with friends and family. You also have the right to leave the house and won’t be fined if you do so.
  • When it’s safe to do so, contact or have someone you know contact Safe Steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188, email safesteps@safesteps.org.au, or use their web chat support service so you can plan for your and your children’s safety – regardless of whether you want to stay in the relationship or leave.

Stay connected and have a safety plan

In case of emergency – call 000.

  • If it is not safe at home, talk to friends or family about staying somewhere else for a while. You may wish to check if anyone in that house is self-isolating. If this isn’t an option, call Safe Steps 24/7 on 1800 015 188 or email safesteps@safesteps.org.au for support and advice about finding safe accommodation, you can also use their webchat service.
  • If you can, stay connected to family and friends through social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal. Decide on a ‘safe word’ or signal to use with close friends or family so they know if you need help and to call the police or emergency services.
  • If possible, talk through a plan that might help increase your safety and to protect children. Have your friend or family member call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 for help with safety planning for you and help setting up a safe word signal during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Pack an emergency bag, with important papers, such as passports and clothes, in case you need to leave in a hurry. You may need to leave it at a friend’s place.

Elder abuse

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, usually a family member.

The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological and/or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised elder abuse as a form of family violence featuring the unique dynamics between the older person and a family member such as an adult child. It can also present as short or long term intimate partner violence, carer abuse or stress and long standing family conflict.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing elder abuse, these services may be of assistance:

  • Seniors Rights Victoria

    • 1300 368 821 (10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)
    • Free helpline, legal, advocacy and referral service specialising in elder abuse.

    Elder Rights Advocacy

    • 1800 700 600 or (03) 9602 3066 (6am to 10pm, 7 days a week)
    • Free service for all Victorians in residential and home care programs providing advocacy, information, support and advice.

    Office of the Public Advocate

    • 1300 309 337 (9am to 4.45pm, Monday to Friday)
    • For information or assistance regarding Enduring Power of Attorney, guardianship or administration matters.

    If you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation you should ring Victoria Police on 000.

    For more information read the Respect Victoria fact sheets.

    These resources are also available in other languages via Respect Victoria on the Respect Older - People Call It Out page.

    Help or advice for professionals

    A secondary consultation for professionals, working with older people and their carers or family, is available from an Elder Abuse Prevention and Response Liaison Officer. These services are available at one of five health locations that are part of a trial of an Integrated Model of Care for Responding to Suspected Elder Abuse.

    You can consult an Elder Abuse Prevention and Liaison Officer about suspected elder abuse.

    Please contact a Liaison Officer closest to your catchment area.

If you have concerns for someone who is experiencing family violence

If someone is in immediate danger, call 000. If you are worried about someone and it is safe to do so, you can:

Communicate

Reach out to let them know you believe them and that there is help. Think about secure ways to communicate, such as using Whatsapp, Signal etc. If you choose to use a social media platform, make sure they use a safe device (one that isn’t accessible to the person who is making them feel unsafe - you can find out more about making devices safe on the WESNET website). Agree on a code word or signal to let you know they need help or need you to call 000.

There is also helpful information on websites including:

Safety in their home

If they are staying in the same location as the person using violence, they may need other ways to protect themselves and their children or other family members. Call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 for advice and support or use their web chat support service available 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday.

Accommodation and leaving home

Talk to them about their options for safe accommodation during this time. This could include staying with family and friends for an extended period of time. If someone is planning on leaving, call Safe Steps 1800 015 188 or a local family violence service for advice.

Let them know that under coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions people can leave their home to escape harm or the risk of harm relating to family violence. Call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 for advice and support or use their web chat support service available 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday.

Additional resources for practitioners

Reviewed 16 February 2021

Coronavirus Victoria

24/7 Coronavirus Hotline

If you suspect you may have coronavirus (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline – open 24 hours, 7 days.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

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