Lifeline WA understands that through the COVID-19 pandemic, couples and families have found themselves navigating new and difficult circumstances. In this article, we will focus on the challenges and impacts of COVID-19 on romantic relationships, navigating separation through COVID-19 as a parent, and provide some resources for families to find information and support.

The impact of COVID-19 on romantic relationships

COVID-19 lockdown and quarantine restrictions have put a new kind of strain on relationships, with many couples and families finding themselves in lockdown within a single home. Anne Hollonds, chief executive officer of The Australian Institute of Family Studies, said it was not unusual to see an increase in separations after couples have spent a significant amount of time together on a daily basis, which may explain why we see an increased rate of separations after the Christmas holidays and in January. During COVID-19, we have a similar situation in which couples spent more time together, putting a strain on their relationships.

A Sydney Morning Herald article published on June 7 suggested that organisations such as Relationships Australia have recognised a significant increase in people considering separating from their partner or seeking support to navigate their relationship.

Navigating separation through the COVID-19 pandemic

Lifeline WA understands that individuals and families may be going through difficult circumstances, many of which can feel increasingly overwhelming. Through difficult times like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important that individuals and families know where they can reach out for support if needed.

Federal Government online resource Family Relationships says some of the challenges faced by families include:

  • Navigating breakdowns in communication with partners, former and current;
  • Navigating the legal processes of separation, particularly through the ambiguous circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Managing a locked down household with children unable to attend school, while also balancing the requirements of work and other responsibilities; and
  • A general sense of fatigue and increased stress levels.

With all these new and additional challenges, what resources can people look to if they are seeking information and support to navigate a separation or relationship breakdown?

Resources for families

Lifeline WA delivers the Separated Mums and Separated Dads Counselling Program. The program is a unique and free counselling service that provides support to families and individuals before, during

and after separation, as well as through times of grief, loss and bereavement. For more information for mothers, click here, and for fathers, click here.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has created a portal dedicated to resources for families during COVID-19. You can access the portal through this link.

Relationships Australia has listed some tips to support you through COVID-19, which you can access via this link. In addition to the free Lifeline WA Separated Mums and Separated Dads counselling service, you can call the telephone crisis line 24/7 on 13 11 14 for a confidential conversation with a trained crisis supporter. You could also use the Lifeline Service Finder – a directory of free or low-cost health and community services available in Australia. It also includes services such as domestic violence, family and children’s services, financial assistance and mental health services. The directory is available here

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