Coronavirus-related family abuse spikes in Australia, Latest World News - The New Paper

Coronavirus-related family abuse spikes in Australia

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SYDNEY:  Australia yesterday announced a nearly A$150 million (S$132 million) boost in funding to tackle domestic violence after support services reported a spike in coronavirus-related family abuse.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there had been a 75 per cent surge in Google searches for help during the ongoing nationwide shutdown of non-essential services to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Women's Safety, a domestic violence charity in Australia's most populous New South Wales state, reported that more than 40 per cent of workers had seen an increase in client numbers, with over a third of cases directly linked to the virus outbreak.

In neighbouring Victoria, women's support service Wayss said police requests for assistance with cases had almost doubled in the past week, as they dealt with a form of abuse "not experienced before".

"Just having the people in the house, rather than having the pressure release of going to work, or being able to travel freely outside of the house are contributing factors," Wayss chief executive officer Liz Thomas told public broadcaster ABC.

"We have also seen half a dozen examples in the past week where perpetrators have actually used Covid-19 as a form of abuse - telling their partners that they have the virus, therefore they can't leave the house."

Perpetrators have also invited "people into the house where the woman is self-isolating, saying that the visitor has Covid-19 and is going to infect them", Ms Thomas said.

Prime Minister Morrison said the A$150 million boost - part of an additional A$1.1 billion in health-related spending announced yesterday - would be spent on telephone support services for both domestic violence victims and abusers.

The rate of spread of the coronavirus has halved in recent days, Mr Morrison said yesterday.

The daily increase in cases was at 13 per cent to 15 per cent, down from 25 per cent to 30 per cent seen a week ago, showing social distancing measures were working, he said. - AFP, REUTERS