Media Release: Family violence & sexual assault services remain open as demand grows

Services for people affected by family violence remain open, with demand for assistance growing as a consequence of COVID-19.

“Some of our organisations have reported a big jump in demand for services this month, as the impact of COVID-19 including isolation, movement restrictions, job losses and financial stress place many clients at greater risk of family violence,” said Victims of Crime Commissioner, Heidi Yates.

“We want to reassure our clients and the community that all of our services remain open and ready to respond. We are just as committed as ever to assisting Canberrans.

“If you need to talk about your safety, help is available.

“If you have been sexually assaulted, help is available.

“If you need legal assistance, help is available.

“If you need support services and safety planning, help is available.

“We urge people who need help now, or think they may need help soon, to contact any of our organisations. Our services are working closely so there is no wrong door,” Ms Yates said.

  • Victim Support ACT at the ACT Human Rights Commission: Ph 6205 2222 Mon-Fri 9–5.

Sonia Di Mezza, Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service said: “The Domestic Violence Crisis Service remains available 24/7 to those in the community who have been impacted by domestic and family violence, including those who are at risk of using violence. We continue to provide crisis intervention, legal advocacy, safety planning and referrals during this time.

“If you are concerned about what is happening for you or worried about a friend or family member, we encourage you to contact us,” Ms Di Mezza said.

  • Domestic Violence Crisis Service 24/7 crisis line Ph 62 800 900

Women’s Legal Centre Executive Director, Elena Roseman said: “COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty for women in Canberra.

“If you are separated and are worried about how to manage your parenting arrangements during this time, or if you are contemplating separation and want to know your legal options to protect your safety or your kids, the Women’s Legal Centre can help. We can also help if you are having problems working with care and protection, or problems at work related to family or domestic violence or COVID-19.

“The Centre’s Aboriginal Women’s Program is also still operating and we’re here if you need a yarn or a hand to make sure you’ve got the support you need,” Ms Roseman said.

  • Women’s Legal Centre Ph 6257 4377, Mon-Fri 9-5.

Chrystina Stanford, Chief Executive Officer of the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre said:
“For people already living with the effects of trauma, the changes from COVID-19 can be more difficult to navigate. Canberra Rape Crisis Centre is able to assist those who are struggling with the impacts of sexual violence now, or impacts surfacing now for sexual assault that occurred long ago.”

  • Canberra Rape Crisis Centre Line Ph 6247 2525, 7am-11pm, 7 days per week. The Centre’s counselling, crisis appointments and advocacy appointments are now via phone. 24-hour callout service to police and forensic services is open for those wishing to report sexual assault.
  • 1800RESPECT 24 hours, 7 days a week, for those impacted by sexual or domestic violence.

Legal Aid ACT’s family violence team leader, Margie Rowe said: “The Legal Aid ACT Family Violence Unit remains open and available by telephone to anyone who needs legal advice or assistance regarding family violence or related family law issues. This includes representation in the Magistrates Court (by phone) to obtain Family Violence Orders. Our Community Liaison team is also available for assistance with family violence related support, including our social worker, men’s worker, cultural liaison officers and Aboriginal support officers.”

  • Legal Aid ACT Helpline Ph 1300 654 314, Mon-Fri 8:30am to 4.30pm.