Learnings from the shadow pandemic: Innovation in domestic and family violence responses in times of disaster

Dr Naomi Pfitzner1, Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon1

1Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Across the globe restrictions introduced to counter the spread of COVID-19 have left many women and children sheltering in homes with abusers and limited help-seeking opportunities. In Australia, the increased risks to women’s safety posed by the pandemic control measures required a rapid transition to remote service delivery. While much attention has been paid to the wellbeing of essential care services professionals during COVID-19, the wellbeing of DFV workers has been somewhat overlooked. The quality of care provided to people experiencing DFV depends on the health and wellbeing of practitioners who do this crucial work. This paper presents findings from a rapid research project investigating DFV, help-seeking and service innovation during COVID-19 in the Australian state of Victoria. This research draws on a multi-wave online survey and focus groups with over 100 practitioners responding to DFV during COVID-19 in Victoria. The paper will share insights into the ways in which practitioners pivoted their services to ensure accessibility and availability of services during a time of peak demand. This paper will also present lessons learned about strategies and actions to safeguard the mental health and wellbeing of DFV workers to ensure effective and sustainable family violence support during times of crisis.


Dr Naomi Pfitzner is a Lead Researcher with the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre and Lecturer in Criminology in the Faculty of Arts, Monash University (Victoria, Australia). Naomi conducts research in the area of family violence, gender, family studies, social policy and law. Her work has a key focus on domestic and family violence disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Naomi has advised several parliamentary inquiries on COVID-19 response and recovery plans for domestic and family violence.


Dec 09 2021