Aftershock – how the waves of domestic and family violence continue to hurt women and children

60,000 women in NSW are estimated to have experienced domestic and family violence (DFV) for the first time in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.
60,000 women. In just one year. And an untold number of children who likely suffered the immediate and sometimes lifelong impacts. A further 46,000 women were estimated to have experienced an escalation in violence during the same year.

These are the staggering findings of a recently released report Aftershock: Addressing the Economic and Social Costs of the Pandemic and Natural Disasters, part of a new research series into the impact of events of the past two and a half years on people in NSW.
Shelter NSW has been proud to be part of a broader coalition that commissioned this series and thanks NCOSS for its leadership in producing it. In the coming weeks the next chapter on ‘housing’ will be released. That chapter will be broad ranging.

We already know of course, that the lack of affordable housing is one of the key barriers to women leaving violent relationships. A 2021 report for NCOSS by Equity Economics estimated that in 2021 4,812 women were being forced to stay in an unsafe and violent home, or face homelessness – with up to 2,402 women returning to live with a violent partner because of lack of an affordable alternative.

Beyond the human cost of this phenomena, the Aftershock report forecasts a $3.3 billion hit to the NSW economy over the period 2020 to 2025 due to the impacts of increased DFV during the first year of the pandemic alone. These costs include increased use of health and social services, lost productivity, and flow-on costs to the criminal justice, child protection and income support systems.

Unprecedented. How many times have we heard that descriptor: of devastating fires, floods and the pandemic itself? But as the report notes the world has seen this phenomenon of escalating violence against women after natural disasters. As this SMH article notes, the report cites a 53% increase in DFV in New Zealand after the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake and a 98% rise in “physical victimisation of women” following Hurricane Katrina in the United States. To read the full report: Aftershock ‘- report on Domestic Family Violence