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Record ID: d0c1c7ec-f8d3-4b6e-babf-d9a0752c6f6d
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Type: Report
Title: Responding to Queensland’s ‘shadow pandemic’ during the period of COVID-19 restrictions: practitioner views on the nature of and responses to violence against women
Authors: Meyer, Silke
True, Jacqui
Pfitzner, Naomi
Fitz-Gibbon, Kate
ANRA Topic: Natural disasters and pandemics
Drivers of violence against women
Data development
ANRA Population: General population
Categories: COVID-19 Research
ANROWS Completed Register of Active Research projects
Year: 2020
Abstract:  This Report presents the findings from two surveys conducted by the Queensland Domestic Violence Services Networkover a ten-day period in April (15 April to 24 April) and a two-week period in May 2020 (8 May to 22 May). The surveys sought to capture the professional views and experiences of practitioners responding to women experiencing violence during the period of COVID-19 restrictions in Queensland, Australia. Data collection for the Second Survey occurred during the Stage 1 easing of restrictions which began on 15 May, 2020. The findings mirror and lend further support to Victorian research published in early June (Pfitzner, Fitz-Gibbon and True, 2020), and contribute to a growing evidence base in Australia and elsewhere which documents the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and children’s safety, freedom from violence and help-seeking capabilities (see also Piquero et al., 2020; True, Davies and Stone, 2020). The Report also draws further attention to the innovations that have been required of practitioners responding to women experiencing violence during this period and the need to ensure that additional resources are devoted to supporting this work during the easing of restrictions and Australia’s recovery from the pandemic. In the final section of the Report we discuss the funding and resource implications of these findings.

The research has concluded and the output has been added to the ANROWS library. Please visit for more information on the RAR.


Times of crisis and natural disasters are associated with increased violence against women and children and often with reduced access to support services. COVID-19 is no exception, with pandemic control measures restricting people’s movements and confining many women and children to homes with their abusers. In April 2020 the UN Secretary-General labelled violence against women the "shadow pandemic". In Australia, like elsewhere in the world, restrictions introduced to counter the spread of COVID-19 have exacerbated the gap between domestic and family violence service demand and the availability and accessibility of support services for those experiencing and using domestic violence.


This research investigates women’s experiences of violence and help-seeking under the COVID-19 restrictions as well as the impact on the wellbeing of practitioners who provide support during this time.


This mixed methods research brings together the experiences of practitioners responding to family violence during the coronavirus lockdowns via a multi-wave practitioner survey and focus groups as well as service provider data. This research is being carried out in partnership with Domestic Violence Victoria, No to Violence and inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence. The Queensland Domestic Violence Services Network, Women’s Safety NSW and the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency have also shared data for this project.


This research will help us to understand women’s experiences of violence and help-seeking under the COVID-19 restrictions as well as the impact on health and social care workers who provide support during this time. We will share the results widely to help governments and other organisations understand what women experiencing violence need now and to prepare for the future.


Funded by Monash University as part of the "Melbourne Experiment" project


March 2020


January 2022

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