MLC COVID-19 domestic violence legal tip, 2020
One of the recurring questions I have been asked over the last 12 months has been: “Have you noticed an increase in SDFV at your service?” Anecdotally amongst professionals, no experience was alike and, as a newcomer to the industry, I had minimal work experience to compare this to. Statistically, the Australian Institute of Criminology determined that the economic impacts, social distancing restrictions and increased isolation at home associated with COVID-19 contributed to an increase of SDFV. However, it is important to note that connecting the consequences of COVID-19 to the prevalence of SDFV overlooks the ongoing gendered issues concerning this crime. Whilst awareness of SDFV has increased – SDFV has always and will continue to occur beyond this pandemic.
From challenge comes change
Recognising how far we have come as women must also be considered with the intersectional injustices we still face today. As International Women’s Day recognises:
Some women feel they have not encountered discrimination or harassment, or faced systemic barriers to their success, but that’s not the experience of all women. IWD is an opportunity to acknowledge the compounded challenges faced by women […] and stand in partnership with them […] On International Women’s Day we remember that as long as one woman faces discrimination, harassment, inequality or oppression, we all do.
MLC strives for positive and lasting change in our community. We aim to resolve any immediate legal issues our clients face and ensure they are supported with the resources and services they need to improve their lives.
Hillary is a 34-year-old mother to a 3-year-old girl. Hillary was physically and sexually assaulted by her ex-husband. He was found not guilty by the court for these criminal charges. Hillary approached our Centre last year as her Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) was due to expire and she wanted advice around family law.
Hilary was connected to the Domestic Violence Support Service and Family Law Service, who helped Hillary to engage with Legal Aid NSW for family law representation.
The next important step was to extend Hillary’s ADVO, and Domestic Violence Safety Assessment to make sure concerns for her child were reported to Department of Communities and Justice.
Hillary was assisted to understand and prepare to navigate the court process. Following Hillary’s mention date, she was granted a 5-year extension of her ADVO.
Finally, Hillary received help submitting a successful Victims Services application for counselling, financial assistance and a recognition payment of $10,000. Hillary is now attending English classes at her local TAFE and is relieved to have safeguards in place to live free from violence.
Through their triumphs and challenges, my hope for SDFV victim-survivors like Hillary is to see lasting change. I recognise the strengths and improvements needed in our systems. With ongoing victim-survivor consultation, expertise from all disciplines, and resolutions sought within and beyond legislation – we will get closer. The momentum against SDFV must continue beyond IWD and post-pandemic until it ends.
Do you need sexual, domestic, or family violence support? We can help.