Hospital emergency departments are reporting an increase in significant injuries related to domestic violence, with concerns coronavirus social distancing is making matters worse for many people.
“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,” Health Minister Steven Miles said.
“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.”
With no new cases of coronavirus reported overnight, there are growing concerns that right as the pandemic’s impact is easing across Queensland, the opposite is true for domestic violence victims.
The Queensland Government is hosting a virtual summit on the issue today, with more than 120 people participating.
Key organisations across Queensland are taking part in a landmark virtual summit on domestic and family violence services across the state in response to the impact of COVID-19.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said the summit would play a key role in Queensland’s efforts to continue to keep Queenslanders safe from domestic and family violence during the current pandemic.
“As we follow health advice and adhere to social distancing rules, Queenslanders are spending more time at home than ever before,” she said.
“However, home is not a haven for every Queenslander, and COVID-19 has impacted how domestic and family violence services are delivered.
“Ultimately, the Summit’s purpose is to ensure that Queenslanders who are experiencing domestic and family violence have easy access to critical help and support.”
Ms Farmer said the virtual Summit is an Australian-first, bringing together an exceptional group of people from government, peak bodies and frontline service providers.
“The Summit is complemented by specialist roundtables and working groups that have met in the lead-up and continue after the summit.
“From the moment the reality of the pandemic disruptions became clear, we have seen a single-minded focus from many service providers on addressing these issues.”
Ms Farmer said the broader Queensland community would have the opportunity to participate via a Get Involved Survey that went live on May 5 at https://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/.
The online survey is open to 29 May, coinciding with Queensland Domestic Violence Prevention Month.
Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh said Micah Projects and Brisbane Domestic Violence Service were pleased to participate and bring the organisation’s perspective and knowledge on the impacts faced by many vulnerable Queenslanders and families during these times.
“Being able to collaborate with other organisations and individuals and hearing their own perspectives helps to develop responses that will best address the reality that many victims are facing,” Ms Walsh said.
DVConnect CEO Rebecca O’Connor said the summit would play an important role in developing and identifying the priorities that needed to be addressed particularly in how best to deliver services to those in need.
“The pandemic response has created an unusual set of circumstances for many women and families who are faced with having to isolate with a perpetrator,” she said.
“It is critical that people experiencing or using violence know services like DVConnect are available during this time and that we give them a range of options to safely reach out to us for help.
“There are some real challenges for organisations like ours and coming together with others will certainly assist in finding the best solutions to these challenges.”
Chair of The Allison Baden-Clay Foundation, Vanessa Fowler was also involved in today’s Summit. The Foundation launched the STAND BY HER campaign on Friday May 1, highlighting the impact a bystander can have to help people within a domestic and family violence situation find the courage to seek help.
“Now, more than ever, all Australians need to be able to recognise the non-physical signs of domestic and family violence and the tactics to intervene effectively and safely so that we can each be an effective bystander willing to help someone who may be in need.”
“STAND BY HER highlights that We All Have A Voice, and just how powerful that voice can be. Whether it’s a passing conversation, an invitation for a coffee catch up or an offer for more immediate help, these small things plant a seed of support and can ultimately save someone’s life.” Ms Fowler said.
Minister Farmer said people needed to know they have options and do not have to stay in a violent household during the pandemic response.
“The summit will play a vital role in addressing how best we can get that message to Queenslanders and provide those options,” she said.
“We are boosting support for essential government-funded services, so they have capacity and people have someone to turn to and somewhere to go.
“Domestic and family violence is simply unacceptable, and we must rise to the new challenges before us and support those in need.”
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