In this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be serious knock on effects felt by all. Some more obvious and pronounced than others. One serious impact which may not be so obvious but needs to be spoken about is Domestic and Family Violence (DFV).

According to the United Nations, the most dangerous place for women is their home.

It is way too early to gather data on any increase in DFV related to COVID-19 but what we know from every crisis (war, bushfires, major national events) is that DFV increases. Often the reporting of this violence comes out once the crisis has ended and it is safer for women to access support, so we won’t know the real impact of COVID-19 on the safety of women and their children until well after this has all died down. This is a unique case though where a because of the crisis, victims and their perpetrators are being asked (in some cases forced) to stay at home. For many victims the workplace is their only refuge from violence.

We are already seeing heightened levels of angst, even anger, for what were once simple, stress-free tasks such as going to the grocery story, or calling an airline to change a booking. In addition to daily tasks which we once took for granted, there will now be serious financial ramifications felt by many. There will be lost income, redundancies and bills unable to be paid, just to name a few. If perpetrators are feeling more under pressure financially and emotionally, they are going to take that out on their victim even more.

We must raise the awareness levels about the risks of self-isolation and quarantine measures on DFV victims who now have to stay at home, or whose partner has to stay at home.

In a crisis like this, reach out to your colleagues who are social-distancing or self-isolating. While it may not be business as usual in our communal place of work, we must still maintain connection and communication with our colleagues and peers.

This is also an opportunity for organisations to re-visit domestic and family violence polices and ensure they are current. If your organisation does not have a DFV policy, this is the opportunity to develop one.

Women in Gaming & Hospitality is opposed to domestic and family violence. In line with our industry position, we believe organisations should exceed their legislative requirements and provide support for employees that experience DFV.

Suggested support can include paid special leave per year, access to counselling and other referral services, including a dedicated domestic violence support line through EAP/ Wellness provider, flexible working arrangements, and an assurance of confidentiality. Partner with protective services and charities for further assistance/support/ guidance.

Provide employees with access to information from utility providers and banks that provide further assistance (such as free mail redirection and emergency cash etc.).

All DFV hotlines are currently running business as usual, they can be contacted 24/7. However, it is important to note that it is harder for women to contact these services if their abuser is stuck at home with them.

If you need information, support or a referral to local support services call 1800 RESPECT (Australia) or Women’s Refuge Crisis Line (New Zealand) on 0800 733 843.