Shire matters with Mark Speakman: The fight to eradicate the scourge of domestic violence is ongoing

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman. Picture: John Veage

Cronulla MP Mark Speakman. Picture: John Veage

One overarching message to fight COVID-19 has been 'stay home to help save lives'. This has been alongside other health terms like 'slow the spread' and 'flatten the curve.' Bottom line - staying home meant staying safe.

But many don't have a safe home in the first place.

Thousands of people, mostly women, across NSW suffer domestic and family violence each year. For them, home doesn't offer solace or shelter, but is more often a place of pain and terror.

I was cautiously optimistic last month when the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) reported crime statistics for domestic violence during the early stages of social distancing in NSW. The report showed no marked increase.

My optimism was tempered because I knew that isolation measures may have been, and continue to be, hampering women's attempts to contact support services. Why? Because the perpetrators of their abuse were isolated alongside them.

BOCSAR's results also differed from frontline services, who reported not only an increase in demand, but also generally more complex needs from callers. This meant the abuse may have worsened or was complicated by loss of work and other challenges like mental health issues.

These same frontline services have done an outstanding job throughout this crisis and they continue to keep their doors open. They've modified their services to operate remotely and found new and creative ways to connect with clients. For that, I want to say thank you.

This pandemic is not over. Neither is the fight to eradicate the scourge of domestic violence.

If you know that someone is in danger, please call Triple Zero (000). Or if you're suffering abuse, when it's safe to do, please call the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63 or 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).