COVID-19: adapting practice

The following is advice that we recently sent to our members. We will publish updates here during the COVID-19 outbreak because we think it’s important to provide as many people as possible with access to help and support.

Adapting under the pressure of coronavirus (COVID-19):
a guide for sector workers
We congratulate all services for keeping up their crucial support and adapting rapidly under the impact of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought many services to a halt and can distance those at risk of using family violence as well as the support services for family members.

We recognise that some homes may become dangerous places in the coming weeks, especially under the social distancing and home isolation. Our member services can still support their clients and we can still support you.
 
We have put together some guidance about methods to support your needs and those of your clients, aiming to address and mitigate any intensification of family violence.
 
Government and health advice changes rapidly. It’s critical that services prepare for the potential that traditional modes of service delivery will be affected.
 
Many of your organisations may have already put in place measures that affect your practice with clients. This document hopes to equip practitioners with some tools to use alternative ways to provide the support we all understand is critical to minimising violence in this stressful time.
We invite you to a sector briefing hosted by No to Violence.

When: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 1-2 PM
Where:
https://zoom.us/j/878175375

Some of the topics we’ll discuss include:



State and federal government health updates and measures
Alternative ways of engaging with men who use violence
Increased risk of domestic and family violence during COVID-19
Common themes and issues that have been identified
What more can we do to help?

In line with health guidance and threat assessments, No to Violence believes now is the time to consider how your service can limit or remove face-to-face service delivery including assessments, group work, counselling and case management until it is safe to reinstate these tools.
 
If your organisation chooses to continue to deliver face-to-face services, ensure you monitor advice on safe practices and adhere to social distancing and monitor updates here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
 
Throughout this crisis we will be updating our website for practitioners and encourage you to visit only reputable sources of information on the virus itself.
The following offers guidance in relation to working with men who use violence where:

– Families engaged or engaging with our service system are impacted. – Men are not actively seeking or attending a men’s behaviour change service.
– Family members contracting COVID-19 and their capacity to seek assistance is limited. The person using the violence is likely to be in the home as part of home isolation. If you are concerned or worried about the immediate safety of family members call the police on 000.
 
For further information please contact Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491.
 
Home isolation – changing your delivery

“Home isolation” in this context (14-day isolation) is a significant risk factor where escalation of family violence is heightened, this includes other factors that are already identified such as: financial difficulties, unemployment, physical and mental illness, and overall heightened stress on family life.

Using alternative methods of contact

We understand that reducing or removing face-to-face client work and meetings can disrupt your normal work program. However, there are alternative ways of engaging with men. This includes for all organisations delivering Perpetrator Intervention Programs (Men’s Behaviour Change Programs, individual case management, holding groups, wait list management support, individual counselling, and intake and assessment).

When reaching out to affected family members

Family Safety contact work should be increased and safety plans with women and/or children updated, to consider the effects of COVID-19 and home isolation.

It is important to note that the person using the violence is likely to be in the home as part of ‘home isolation’. Some reminders when contacting the women as part of safety contact:

The following information may help where organisations have reduced/changed service delivery to families because of COVID-19. This can mean:
– Your service is having limited or no face-to-face contact with men during the coronavirus outbreak and you have implemented changes in your service delivery model e.g., group work cancelled; no face to face outreach or counselling
– You may also have reductions in staffing due to self- or forced isolation due to illness

Increasing the frequency of risk assessment and management activities will be required over this time, with all family members. The Men’s Referral Service (MRS) can be included as a risk management strategy highlighting the availability outside of traditional work hours.

Safety plans should be reviewed and updated and monitored with men in consideration of the COVID-19 and potential “home isolation” (14-day isolation).

Staff should follow their organisational policies and advice on engaging clients.

To keep up to date with government advice, please see you local health departments’ websites, or visit: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert