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Legal Aid funding boost amid sharp rise in domestic violence calls during pandemic

The domestic violence unit at Legal Aid NSW has taken more calls for help in the past four months than it typically receives in a year, with an unprecedented 1600 people ringing in since March 4, compared to an annual average of 1000.

It has also received 1100 email referrals for assistance since March 23, when Sydney went into its coronavirus lockdown with pubs, restaurants and other businesses forced to close, and tough restrictions imposed on residents’ movements.

Legal Aid NSW's domestic violence unit will receive additional funding to deal with a sharp rise in demand.

Legal Aid NSW’s domestic violence unit will receive additional funding to deal with a sharp rise in demand.Credit:John Gomez

In response to the jump in demand, the NSW government will direct $15.6 million from a Commonwealth funding package for the legal assistance sector to Legal Aid NSW, community legal centres and the Aboriginal Legal Service.

“As people face job losses, tenancy issues, financial insecurity and, horrifically, the increasing risk of violence behind closed doors, there are more people than ever contacting Legal Aid, community legal centres and the Aboriginal Legal Service,” said NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman.

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