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Adapting Service Delivery during COVID-19: Experiences of Domestic Violence Practitioners

COVID-19 rapidly altered patterns of domestic and family violence, increasing the complexity of women’s needs, and presenting new barriers to service use. This article examines service responses in Australia, exploring practitioners’ accounts of adapting service delivery models in the early months of the pandemic. Data from a qualitatively enriched online survey of practitioners show the ways services rapidly shifted to engage with clients via remote, technology-mediated modes, as physical distancing requirements triggered rapid expansion in the use of phone, email, video calls and messaging, and many face-to-face interventions temporarily ceased. Many practitioners and service managers found that remote service delivery improved accessibility and efficiency. Others expressed concerns about their capacity to assess risk without face-to-face contact, and were unsure whether new service modalities would meet the needs of all client groups and reflect best practice. Findings attest to practitioners’ mixed experiences during this period of rapid service innovation and change, and underline the importance of monitoring emerging approaches to establish which service adaptations are effective for different groups of people, and to determine good practice for combining remote and face-to-face service options in the longer term.

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Natasha Cortis, Ciara Smyth, Kylie valentine, Jan Breckenridge and Patricia Cullen
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Journal article - open access