23 June 2021

NSW COVID-19 spike sparks fresh domestic violence fears

NSW COVID-19 spike sparks fresh domestic violence fears

Sexual assaults in NSW reached record highs after 2020’s COVID-19 lockdown, and there are fears further restrictions could fuel more violence at home.

Police reports have been up more than 10 per cent year-on-year since the end of the 2020 lockdown, and most assaults occurred in a domestic setting according to Women’s Safety NSW.

While sexual assault reports recorded by police fell to 336 in April during the pandemic lockdown, the numbers escalated to more than 600 in June and remained high for the rest of the year, according to a report by ABC News.

The increase continues a 20-year upward trend in the crime.

The local government areas that recorded the biggest increases in sexual assaults were Wagga Wagga (71 per cent), Cumberland (54 per cent) and Dubbo (44 per cent).

Sexual assaults are believed to be becoming more violent, reflected in the higher reporting rates to police.

1800Respect, the national sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service, receives 5,000-6,000 calls per week, of which 4 per cent (200-240) related to sexual assault in 2018-19.

The proportion of sexual assault-related calls went up to 5.5 per cent in 2019-20.