Gender-based violence and help-seeking behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic

Investigators: Dr Naomi Pfitzner, Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Professor Jacqui True.
Project contact: Dr Naomi Pfitzner

About this research

In 2019 the United Nations reported that ‘home’ is the most dangerous place for women and children. With more people staying at home to reduce the community spread of COVID-19, there is a greater risk of violence against women and children. The pandemic is making help seeking even harder with disrupted support services and in some cases limited access to communication technology.

This research will help us to understand women’s experiences of violence and help-seeking under the COVID-19 restrictions as well as the impact on health and social care workers who provide support during this time. We will share the results widely to help governments and other organisations understand what women experiencing violence need now and to prepare for the future.

Responding to the 'Shadow Pandemic' Webinar Series

The Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre partnered with Domestic Violence Victoria, the peak body for specialist family violence services for women and children in Victoria, to deliver a 'Responding to the Shadow Pandemic' webinar series throughout the second half of 2020. This webinar series will continue in 2021.

See details of the upcoming 2021 webinar series and watch all 2020 videos here.


You can watch, listen and read media coverage related to the COVID-19 research.

Social Sciences Week 2021

Webinar - 18 Months and Counting: Examining the impacts of COVID19 on gender-based violence in Australia,  Indo-Pacific and UK from Monash Arts on Vimeo.

Responding to the ‘shadow pandemic’- Outputs

These reports present the findings from our gender-based violence and COVID-19 research program.

Related research and project partners

University of Liverpool, School of Law and Social Justice

MGFVPC lead researcher Professor Sandra Walklate (conjoint appointment with University of Liverpool) has been awarded a RCUK/ESRC grant to examine criminal justice responses in England and Wales to domestic abuse under lock down and as as lock down restrictions are eased. This project (with Professor
Barry Godfrey also at Liverpool) will evaluate the efficacy of policy and
practice innovations by both the police and courts in dealing with the
immediate crisis, and explore their viability for future practice in the
face of ongoing service demands.

View the project website here.

inTouch Multicultural Centre against Family Violence

We have partnered with inTouch to undertake research on the impact of the pandemic on women experiencing family violence who hold temporary visas.

This work is led by Dr Naomi Pfitzner and Associate Professor Marie Seagrave. 
For more information about the research view the project page here and access the final report here.

Domestic Violence Victoria

The Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre are partnering with
Domestic Violence Victoria, the peak body for specialist family violence services for
women and children in Victoria, to deliver a 'Responding to the Shadow Pandemic'
webinar series for the DV VIC Philanthropic Network.

Women's Legal Service Victoria

We are partnering with Women’s Legal Service Victoria to look at child protection, access to justice and legal needs of family violence victim survivors during the pandemic.

About the survey

The Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre created a short, anonymous, online survey to learn about worker well-being and moving service innovation forward during the COVID-19 crisis.

The second survey closed on 9th August 2020. A third survey will take place near the end of the year.

The surveys take about 10 minutes to complete. We encourage respondents to answer the questions every time they’re posted. However, it’s still helpful if participants do it only once.

The surveys will be available online for about three weeks each time.

How to find results

The results of the survey will be made available on this website. Be sure to visit this site again to check for the results.

About the team

The research is being led by Dr Naomi Pfitzner, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Director, from the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre together with Professor Jacqui True, Director of the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre. For more information about the team follow this link.


This research is funded by Monash University as part of the “Melbourne Experiment” Project, a landmark interdisciplinary research collaboration studying the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions on the various functions of the city of Melbourne with the aim of improving liveability toward 2050.

More information

There are places you contact for help and information

If you would like to know more about the survey, you can contact the researchers, Dr Naomi Pfitzner
and Professor Jacqui True