BEFORE COVID-19 arrived, Protea Place helped up to 25 at-risk women each day.

The organisation would feed them, give them a safe place to shower, do laundry and help them access social services.

Social distancing put an abrupt stop to homeless women seeking help, and only now, two weeks later, are they reconnecting with the service.

They returned in droves.

"We are seeing a lot of new faces," founder Amanda Dalton said.

"There is a rise in the need to support people on international and student VISAs and people who have lost their jobs and are not eligible for Centrelink payments.

"We are also seeing a lot of women coming in from rural communities, and we are still seeing spikes in family and domestic violence."

The jump in domestic violence is concerning as COVID-19 restrictions make it increasingly difficult for women to leave abusive relationships.

At the same time, Ms Dalton said perpetrators were spending more time at home, either on an isolation order or because they had lost their job.

The conditions led to a spike in calls for help at the Domestic Violence Action Centre this week.

To ease tensions in the community, Protea Place has launched a mobile service.

It will deliver groceries, puzzles, books and other household supplies to at-risk women in isolation.

It will also travel to places where homeless women are known to congregate.

"There is a need for mental health support," Ms Dalton said.

"We are finding people are struggling with isolation and not being able to talk to people.

"Often our women do not have access to devices, it is not as simple as them tuning in through Skype."

If you are in need of support or are concerned about violence in the home, phone Protea Place on 0403 756 783 or the Domestic Violence Action Centre on 46421354.



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