Here we go again, Greater Sydney is in extended lockdown with stay at home orders and a possibility of stricter extensions. The Greater Sydney region includes the Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong areas. Restrictions are reinstated in regional NSW to include compulsory mask wearing at all times in indoor public spaces among other restrictions.
It is a situation that is constantly evolving and requires us to monitor the daily guidance of our Government leaders and advising medical professionals. The stay at home order was issued pursuant to Section 7 of the Public Health (COVID-19 Greater Sydney) Order (No 2) Amendment order 2021.
What does this mean for individuals experiencing domestic and family violence?
If there is anything that the initial lockdown in March 2020 taught us it is that family violence festers in the context of a pandemic and particularly when stay at home orders apply. The initial lockdown of early 2020 saw demographics of domestic and family violence soar to alarming rates, and this pattern has continued throughout 2021.
Stay at home orders make an ordinarily difficult response to domestic violence, all the more dangerous and challenging – fleeing from a perpetrator of family violence. Individuals experiencing family and domestic violence are stuck at home with perpetrators and are isolated from friends, family and community support.
In the greater Sydney region, the four predominantly publicised reasons to leave home include:
- Shopping for food or other essential goods and services
- Seeking medical care or compassionate needs
- Exercise and
- Essential work or education.
What is not at the forefront of the information being provided by Government leaders and medical officials is how these rules apply in terms of family and domestic violence. If you are experiencing domestic violence, stay at home restrictions do not apply and you are able to leave your local area to find safety or move to another residence/other accommodation.
Seeking safety in the midst of stay at home orders, does not constitute a breach of Section 7 of the Public Health Order. Domestic Violence and homelessness services are considered essential services and will be in operation during the course of the 14 day lockdown. Leaving your home to access these services is not a breach of the stay at home orders. Family law solicitors would also be considered to be domestic violence services.
If you are experiencing family violence and need advice about the family law process, you can speak with one of our highly skilled and compassionate family law solicitors. Book an appointment or give us a call on 02 4050 0330.