ERs report DV rise
Melbourne hospitals have recorded a significant increase in the number of people experiencing family violence, and the state hopes a new campaign will help.
Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital says there has been a significant increase in ER presentations by people experiencing family violence.
Chief social worker at St Vincent’s, Lisa Braddy, said presentations have more than doubled.
“We have seen a decrease in overall emergency department presentations but family violence disclosures have increased considerably since the same time last year in terms of proportions and figures,” Ms Braddy said.
Ms Braddy said the COVID-19 pandemic has “magnified” financial distress, especially when adult children have to moved back home after losing their jobs.
She said many are living in a “pressure-cooker environment”.
“There's definitely been an increase in physical injuries in victims,” Ms Braddy said.
Queensland hospitals are reporting a similar increase in significant injuries related to domestic violence.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles agrees that lockdown rules could be making things worse.
“I've been disturbed to hear from our emergency department staff that the reduction in sporting injuries and road trauma has been partially offset by trauma caused by domestic and family violence,” he said last week.
“Of course that's terribly disturbing for the people affected and for our hospital staff who deal with the aftermath of it.
“Anything we can do to address this increase in domestic and family violence during this pandemic, I think is really important.”
Queensland is providing an extra $2 million in funding for support services to help at-risk families find alternative accommodation.
In Victoria, the government has launched a new Respect Each Other: Call It Out campaign to remind victims help is available and to let bystanders know they can report family violence even with COVID-19 restrictions in place.
“We understand social isolation and physical distancing is extremely difficult for families but we want to send a clear message that's not an excuse for family violence,” Minister for Prevention of Family Violence Gabrielle Williams told the ABC.
Other hospitals have experienced a drop in the number of people experiencing family violence, which the chief of community service organisation Berry Street, Michael Perusco, suggests could show that victims are unable to reach out for help.
“It's not like abuse isn't occurring. It is, it's just not being reported,” Mr Perusco said.
“International experience shows during periods of lockdown, family violence increases, and we are concerned that there are a number of vulnerable families in Victoria that are not getting the level of support that they normally would because of COVID-19.”