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Domestic violence and coronavirus ‘a tinderbox situation’

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NSW Police Minister David Elliott has assured domestic violence victims they will still be able to access essential services during the coronavirus outbreak.

There has been no recorded increase in domestic violence incidents so far, but authorities have concerns about potential victims being trapped in houses with their alleged abusers.

“All the ingredients for a tinderbox situation are there. We’ve seen a rapid increase in unemployment, which creates anxiety and fear amongst the main breadwinner in the home,” Mr Elliott said.

“We’ve seen something like a 30 per cent increase in bottle shop sales, we’ve got the cancellation of normal recreational activities such as sport and of course social engagements.

“And we have of course on top of all of that, a real fear from members of the public, from families, that if somebody is either carrying or acquires coronavirus that could have their lives threatened.

“I would be horrified to think that individuals will believe or will carry out acts of violence within their owns homes thinking that under the cover of darkness, under the fog of war, through this coronavirus tragedy they will be able to get away with it – they won’t.

“They will not get away with it.”

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said survivors could be confident that support services and the NSW Police Force are prepared and ready to respond if they need help.

“As citizens cooperate with social distancing directions, self-isolation and quarantine, there is an associated risk that domestic and family violence will increase,” Mr Speakman said.

“Victims have a right to live a life free from violence every single day. When it’s safe to do so, I urge them to contact our hard-working frontline services for support.”

The NSW Government announced additional support for domestic violence survivors, including extra funding for housing.

It has allocated $14.3 million to increase the supply and flexibility of temporary accommodation across NSW, including accommodation suitable for self-isolation; a $20 million commitment to accelerate pathways for existing clients and priority social housing applicants to secure stable housing in the private rental market – including more than 350 Rent Choice Start Safely packages dedicated to women and children escaping domestic and family violence; and financial support covering the costs of additional staffing for homelessness providers , such as casual workers or overtime.

“Further changes may be necessary as the COVID-19 crisis continues, but if you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic or family violence, multiple services are available to provide immediate support,” Mr Speakman said.

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