Following are the requests for Federal Government support that our members have developed over the last week in light of the risks to women’s and children’s safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our understanding of what is needed is evolving with the progress of the pandemic and the adaptions required, but this is our starting point for advocacy and planning.


For more information on the impact of the pandemic on women’s and children’s safety, with particular reference to domestic and family violence (DFV) and sexual violence (SV) see our opinion piece here.


We request that the Federal Government provide the following support:
  • TV and social media campaign- “Everyone has the right to be safe in their own home – services are here to support you”, targeting both victims/survivors and people using violence and giving avenue to seek help/change behaviour. Must be part of a package together with funding for services as below. 
  • Increased funding for ads and service capacity for: 
    • 1800RESPECT
    • Men’s Referral Service
    • Kids Helpline
    • Mensline
    • Safety Net Australia
  • Courts and policing to prioritise women’s and children’s safety
    • Victims/survivors need to be able to rely on civil protection orders 
    • Exclusions orders should be encouraged at this time
    • Coordination with States and Territories
  • Increased investment in safe at home programs (Federal Government funding to increase from $18 million to $180 million and States/Territories to match so that victims/survivors and their children who want to be supported to stay home safely aren’t forced into homelessness.
  • Funding for refuge/DFV/SV/legal services staff to do specialist outreach, support, legal assistance and safety planning where necessary remotely and if appropriate to support women and children, including those being placed in temporary accommodation (eg hotels/motels), and including funding for therapeutic staff (counsellors and therapists) 
  • Increasing capital works (expand / extend Safe Places program) to increase refuge supply in light of potential surge in demand once immediate crisis is over – amending this program to remove the requirement to arrange matched funding; keeping requirement to be led by specialist service; incorporating funding for service provision as well, not only capital build – to be achieved via direct coordination with States and Territories 
  • New COAG women’s safety council to meet immediately on this issue and to include NGO women’s services sector in this meeting / all planning
  • Immediately fund WESNET’s Safety Net Australia / Safe Connections program to continue providing safe phones and tech safety advice to victims/survivors and training to frontline workers, and re-fund the Family Violence Prevention Legal Services National Forum. 
  • Funding for community services Equal Remuneration wage adjustment (and more general community sector support as per ACOSS/ASU advice).
  • Provide access for women on temporary visas experiencing violence to Medicare, all relevant services and income support, including in the event their jobs are lost due to the pandemic, and to the economic support payments ($750)
  • Urgently give Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients access to the increased Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight, consistent with the Jobseeker Payment and other payments recently announced 
  • Ensure access to reproductive health services including contraception and abortion, in light of likely increase in unplanned pregnancies and increased sexual violence (see Marie Stopes situation report here).
 Updated 2 April to add references to Family Violence Prevention Legal Services National Forum and Disability Support Pension, and broaden references to legal services and justice/policing responses.