A surge in family domestic violence throughout the COVID pandemic shows little sign of slowing, putting support services under increasing pressure to help victims.
Berry Street's after-hours family violence crisis line was one of the busiest in the state last year and the demand is still high according to senior manager family violence Denise O'Dowd.
Despite record investment in to family violence support services from the state government, Ms O'Dowd said more funding was needed to be able to properly support victims, and perpetrators.
"The housing crisis is one of our big concerns and that's across the board in the state, but certainly in the central highlands there's no exit point out of emergency accommodation," she said.
"Private rentals are at an all time low which puts pressure on us because a lot of our clients end up being homeless as a result of family violence ... at some point the impact of the tight housing market flows through to emergency accommodation which means it won't be that available for women and children."
Ms O'Dowd said programs working to help manage and support perpetrators of domestic violence, to hold men accountable for their actions, also needed more funding throughout the state.
Women's safety groups across the country have called for an extra $150 million from the Federal Government to help deal with an increase in demand from women fleeing violence.
They were given a boost of that amount during the coronavirus pandemic last year and say demand has not gone away.
Agencies believe there will be another spike in domestic family violence as financial pressures mount following the end of JobKeeper payments last month.
"What we do know is that women are significantly represented in lower paid and vulnerable employment, and who may therefore be seriously impacted by this payment ceasing," said Queensland Domestic Violence Support Network convenor Rosie O'Malley.
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" Additionally, if their partners or ex-partners no longer have a steady source of income, women may be facing additional financial abuse and coercion, or intimidation and threats relating to allowing partners to remain the relationship or return to the family home because they cannot afford to pay rent or other financial obligations. None of which reduces their risk of experiencing DFV or supports them into living safe unburdened lives."
Specialist women's safety services and women's refuges, mostly in New South Wales and Queensland, warned that would have to cut staff and support without another $150 million in special funding as they called on federal, state and territory governments to repeat the cash injection that addressed the spike in domestic violence during the pandemic.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg indicated the federal government was open to providing significantly more money to women's safety groups and was investing $1 billion in to a fourth national action plan on family violence, as well as other initiatives.
- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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