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COVID-19 makes women facing domestic violence and homelessness even more vulnerable

Louise McCann Source: Supplied

Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter (HKWS) is calling for assistance from the community to help cope with expected surge in demand from vulnerable women facing domestic violence or homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.

HKWS aims to provide temporary supported accommodation for women in times of crisis such as homelessness and/or domestic violence.

President of the Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter Louise McCann says the Shelter is confronting huge challenges as it is seeking to increase capacity to cope with rising demand.

Requests for support services are projected to increase by more than 30% due to COVID-19. This situation is unraveling while funds are dwindling and fundraising opportunities are becoming more challenging due to the pandemic.

Job loss and financial stress have been identified as key factors leading to an increase in domestic violence which in turn pushes women to seek help from the Shelter and other support services.

“Women are confronting situations in which they along with their children are isolated at home with violent perpetrators upon whom they are financially dependent,” Louise McCann said.

The President of HKWS also highlighted that reaching out to women to provide mental health support is very important as women facing domestic violence are often very isolated, alone and frightened for their safety and that of their children.

Despite draconian social distancing and self-isolation measures, HKWS has made efforts to stay open while safeguarding the safety of their clients and their staff.

“Our dedicated Shelter staff are on hand, delivering comprehensive case management plans for our clients and assisting them to access vital medical, legal and mental health services, to help them get their lives back on track,” Ms McCann said

HKWS is also planning for the provision of digital counselling services via their outreach program.

“We are ramping up our tailored outreach program enabling us to reach out to more women including those who cannot be physically housed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic."

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