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Boost to SA domestic violence funding, services

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South Australian women experiencing domestic violence are set to receive increased safety and financial support as part of a $2.4 million coronavirus-prompted cash boost to “break the cycle of violence before it’s too late”.

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InDaily reported in July that demand for emergency domestic violence accommodation spiked by 15 per cent over the peak COVID-19 lockdown period, as restrictions and heightened stress exacerbated abuse in homes.

It followed concerns from some South Australian domestic violence support services that the coronavirus pandemic could see incidents rise by up to 40 per cent, with women forced to self-isolate at home with their perpetrator, away from their support networks.

In response, the Federal Government in April gave South Australia $2.4 million to fund a new 24/7 domestic violence referral hotline for men to seek help about their use of violence and to boost support services for women and children experiencing violence.

Federal Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston today announced a further $2.4 million would be handed to SA to bolster the state’s men’s hotline service and to increase support packages to families.

The funding is part of a $150 million federal response being dispersed to all states and territories to combat domestic violence.

Of the $2.4 million announced for South Australia today, $700,000 will be spent on domestic violence support packages that cover transport, personal needs, health services, food and financial support for families escaping domestic violence.

The money will also be used to fast-track the opening of safety hubs in the Limestone Coast and Whyalla regions from December this year.

A further $1.2 million will be spent on “flexible responses” to address domestic violence as the coronavirus pandemic evolves, while $500,000 will be used for perpetrator behaviour change services, including keeping the 24/7 men’s hotline running beyond this year.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from our frontline services the need to fund additional support services for perpetrators and that’s why we’ve committed an additional $500,000 for perpetrator behaviour change support services, so we can begin to break the cycle of violence before it’s too late,” SA Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said.

“This additional $2.4 million allows us to fast-track measures to support at-risk women and children in South Australia, including particularly vulnerable groups such as women living in remote areas, women living with disability and Aboriginal women and their children.”

Assistant Domestic Violence Minister Carolyn Power added that financial strain was “often a barrier for many women leaving dangerous situations”, but domestic violences services were ready to help.

“All critical DV services have remained available and will we continue to do whatever we can to ensure women feel safe and supported and know where to turn for help,” she said.

People who feel concerned should contact the 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) phone number, DV Crisis Line on 1800 800 098, or contact SAPOL through 131 444 or Triple 000 if it is an emergency. 

The men’s domestic violence referral service can be reached on 1300 766 491.

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