A second COVID-19 lockdown and extended home schooling is taking its toll
The Women's Cottage has been supporting local vulnerable women and children in the Hawkesbury region for 40 years.
It offers confidential support and direct assistance to women on the phone or in person around issues of safety, financial hardship, and all forms of emotional distress.
Service manager Maria Losurdo said local women need support now more than ever.
"Families in the Hawkesbury have been going through hard times for a long time," Ms Losurdo said.
"Long term impacts from years of drought, catastrophic bushfires, flooding and now COVID-19 has taken a significant toll. And for many families the traumatic impacts of the bushfires and flooding feel like they have been forgotten as COVID has taken over.
"A second COVID-19 lockdown and extended home schooling is taking its toll, causing increased family stress, financial and employment worry and isolation.
"This can lead to a significant increase in arguments, and sometimes in domestic violence and safety issues at home."
In response to these increased needs, The Women's Cottage applied for government support during COVID to increase their opening hours and employ a designated domestic violence worker.
Ms Losurdo said it can be hard for women to know what to do when things start to spiral out of control but it was important that they understood it was okay to leave home during lockdown if they needed help.
"For many women it may be the first time they have experienced these types of issues which can make it hard to understand what is happening," she said.
"And in many situations, it is hard for women to reach out because they don't have a confidential space to themselves at home to make those types of calls, even if they knew who to call."
The Women's Cottage encourages family, friends, and neighbours to play a role in supporting someone if they are concerned about them.
"Believe women that talk about safety concerns and let women know you are concerned about them and offer to support them to get support," Ms Losurdo said.
"Let them make phone calls from your own house or phone if that is needed. And let them know about services like The Women's Cottage that can help."
You can call The Women's Cottage on 4578 4190.
24/7 phone support is also available from 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) If in danger now call 000.