Alcohol prominent in NSW family violence

Domestic violence experts say alcohol is playing a greater part in incidents during the pandemic.
Domestic violence experts say alcohol is playing a greater part in incidents during the pandemic.

Alcohol is playing a significant role in family and domestic violence abuse as the case loads of NSW's crisis support workers rise, a new study reveals.

A Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and Women's Safety NSW report issued Saturday found specialists are seeing greater complexity in family violence incidents, while 51 per cent of specialists are reporting an increase in the role of alcohol use.

The report - which surveyed more than 50 specialists from 27 NSW family and domestic violence services - found almost half (47 per cent) have seen an increase in their case load due to new clients and higher demand from existing clients.

The COVID-19 pandemic had played a role in this rise.

"Our specialists are being told by women that alcohol is being used in response to stress, loss of employment, fears of the virus, isolation and being 'stuck at home with children and partners', with some clients self-medicating with alcohol to numb the pain of abuse," Women's Safety NSW chief executive Hayley Foster said in a statement.

"This is extremely concerning as we are heading into a highly risky time for women and children seeking safety as the pandemic restrictions are slowly lifted."

Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed there was a 14 per cent increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic, while past FARE studies found alcohol-related domestic assaults account for up to half of all recorded domestic assaults.

FARE chief executive Caterina Giorgi on Saturday said better access to support services and increased training across the sector - as well as "common sense measures" such as the prohibition of late-night alcohol delivery - was crucial.

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Australian Associated Press