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An Australian Catholic University study of asylum-seekers and refugees in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic found that their experiences intensified domestic partner violence and financial stress.

Participants in the study were already experiencing pre-existing hardships while government policies that excluded them from support packages exacerbated their feelings of worthlessness and humiliation. The pandemic intensified these experiences.

The government-mandated lockdown measures led to increased feelings of loneliness and loss of social support networks, reduced access to public spaces, and limited engagement in face-to-face activities and opportunities for socialising and maintaining mental wellbeing. In particular, the lockdowns during the pandemic intensified domestic partner violence incidents and financial stress.

Researchers Sebastian Trew, Jen Couch, Jillian Cox and Vivien Cinque designed the study and interviewed the participants. 

Their paper. “We Were Already in Lockdown”: Exploring the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Australia—Mental Health, Social Isolation, Abandonment, and Financial Precarity, has been published in the journal Health and Social Care in the Community.

The project was made possible by the ACU’s Stakeholder Engaged Scholarship Unit, which was established to provide an avenue through which ACU can address issues of social, cultural and economic importance as identified by communities.


Pandemic stress not over for asylum seekers and refugees (ACU)