Call out domestic violence to ease spike in cases

NEIGHBOURS, housemates, workmates and the Sunraysia community are being asked to call out any behaviour they believe to be family violence, throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of a new campaign, Respect Each Other: Call It Out, locals are being urged to look for signs of family violence in those around them.

A spike in family violence has already been recorded across Victoria since COVID-19 social isolation measures were introduced and experts predict the number of incidents will continue to rise despite restrictions easing.

Respect Victoria CEO Tracey Gaudry said regional areas such as Mildura were prone to higher levels of family violence, with isolation expected to aggravate those numbers further.

"When you look at the 20 metro, regional and rural shires across Victoria, the outer most shires are the worst affected in terms of family violence and that includes East Gippsland and the northern Loddon region where Mildura is," Ms Gaudry said.

"When you consider other contributing factors (related to the COVID-19 pandemic) such as loss of income, change in living arrangements, different roles in the home for example, there is a concern that those stressors will contribute to behaviours, not being checked and may contribute to people who are at risk not calling that out and not calling for help."

TV, radio and print ads about the campaign have already started to air in Sunraysia, and prompt people to be vigilant and look out for signs of violence.

"If you observe a change in someone's behaviour, they're not returning phone calls and their online social habits are changing, just check in with them and find a way for a signal if they do need help," Ms Gaudry said.

"Family violence can take many forms. It can be psychological, emotional, financial, physical, sexual or a combination. We ask the community to join us in rejecting the idea that there's ever an excuse for family violence, and we want Victorians to know that there is support out there, whether they are at risk of, or experiencing violence, or witness it as a bystander."

For more information, visit: respectvictoria.vic.gov.au or for 24/7 support through the Safe Steps service, call 1800 015 188.

If someone is in immediate danger, call triple zero.