Even under strict lockdown guidelines, family violence is never ok. You deserve to feel safe and respected in all circumstances, especially in your own home. We understand that instances of family violence may have exacerbated during COVID-19 and/or that it may be harder to seek help. We want you to know that you CAN leave your home due to family violence, even under Melbourne’s current restrictions.
Are there restrictions around when I can leave?
If a family member is being violent or abusive towards you, you may leave the house AT ANY TIME to seek help. This includes during curfews currently imposed in Melbourne. If you are stopped by a Police Officer for breaking curfew, calmly explain your situation to them and they will provide you with help.
You will NOT be fined for seeking assistance or fleeing domestic violence during COVID lockdowns.
Where can I go to seek help?
When seeking help due to family violence, there are a number of options available to you. Some of these include:
- Going to your local police station or hospital. Staff will be able to assist you and contact relevant support services.
- Going to a 24/7 essential service such as a petrol station, pharmacy or supermarket. Staff will be able to provide you with a phone to call local authorities and/or support services.
It’s important to note that you CAN travel outside the stipulated 5km radius in Melbourne and surrounds if fleeing from domestic violence. Again, if stopped by police simply explain your situation and they will assist you.
What services are available?
There are a number of support services available to those seeking assistance due to family violence or abuse. If you are experiencing family violence in Victoria, we highly recommend contacting the Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, which is Victoria’s state-wide first response service for women, young people and children experiencing family violence. They offer a 24/7 helpline available at 1800 015 188, as well as an online chat service on their website from 9am-9pm Monday-Friday.
When you contact Safe Steps, you’ll be able to talk to a family violence support worker who can:
- Help you understand your family violence risks
- Explore safety options
- Provide referrals to relevant services such as crisis care, counselling and more
What if a friend or relative is the one experiencing violence?
If someone you know has opened up to you about family violence, or you suspect they may be suffering abuse, it’s important you communicate with them openly and provide a safe place for them to talk. It’s a good idea to let them know about Safe Steps and other support services available, without pressuring them to do anything. If they are at immediate risk, call 000.
If you are looking for a place to start, have a look at the Safe Steps Facebook page and website, which offer an array of information on family violence and related issues. You can also call them on their helpline to speak to a specialist family violence support worker who can offer you advice and support.
If you require legal advice related to family violence or abuse, please be sure to contact us to discuss your needs.