Campaign to combat domestic violence during COVID-19 crisis

Release Date: 
3 May 2020
Media release

Joint Media Release

SENATOR THE HON MARISE PAYNE
Minister for Foreign Affairs 
Minister for Women

SENATOR THE HON ANNE RUSTON
Minister for Families and Social Services
Manager of Government Business in the Senate

The Morrison Government is rolling out extra measures to ensure people experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence know where to get help during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Help is Here campaign will include advertising across television, digital, social media, radio, magazines and newspapers as well as in shopping centres, hospitals and GP surgeries.

Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, said the campaign had two clear messages that help is here and tough times do not excuse tougher times at home.

“For many weeks, Australians have been heeding the Government’s call to stay at home to control the spread of COVID-19. However, for many women and children, home is not a safe place to be,” Minister Payne said.

“We want all Australians to know, including those at risk of using violence, there is free and confidential help available at all hours, every day.

“Support and advice is also available for family and friends of those experiencing domestic violence and abuse.”

The new awareness campaign to promote the two national helplines - 1800RESPECT and MensLine Australia - is part of the Morrison Government’s $150 million Domestic Violence Support Package to help support services meet demand during these unprecedented times.

Minister Ruston said the new campaign directs women and men to 1800RESPECT and MensLine, where they could talk directly and confidentially with trained counsellors via online chat or phone.

“The campaign also delivers the strong message that violence and abuse are never acceptable, no matter the circumstances,” Minister Ruston said.

“Increased stresses at a time like this are known and understandable but they are not an excuse for causing physical or psychological harm.

“It is important that both women and men know they can access help online and by phone at any time of the day or night.”

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began more than 15 per cent of contacts for MensLine Australia have been COVID-19 specific while 1800RESPECT has seen an 11 per cent increase in people accessing support when compared with the same time last year.

1800RESPECT national partner manager Melonie Sheehan said the helpline typically received more approaches for help during natural disaster, when a high-profile case of domestic abuse was reported in the media or major events such as this pandemic.

“In particular, we have seen a shift in how and when people contact us,” Ms Sheehan said.

“More people are calling the service in the very late hours, closer to midnight and we have also seen an increase in people contacting us via webchat as this may be when and how people feel more comfortable or safer to seek support.”

On the Line chief executive Samantha Fredericks said between February and March the organisation’s MensLine service had seen a 34 per cent increase in callers who reported family violence concerns.

“We want men to understand they can reach out for help before a situation escalates,” Ms Fredericks said.

“Seeking support and advice for emotional health and relationship concerns now and at any time is so important.”

Further information is available at www.australia.gov.au/dvsupport

If you or someone you know is experiencing or at risk of domestic, family or sexual violence contact 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) 1800respect.org.au or MensLine Australia (1300 789 978) mensline.org.au

These national services are available and accessible to all people located in Australia, including Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander people, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including those on temporary visas, as well as people with disability.