Australians are being encouraged to take care of themselves and others this Christmas by watching their social media use and looking out for signs of domestic and family violence.
Federal Labor MP Linda Burney said rates of domestic and family violence typically increased over Christmas with calls to a helpline last December spiking by 22 per cent.
She urged Australians to look out for family, friends and workmates who might be victims, noting that violence against women could be physical, emotional, psychological and sexual.
“We need to look for more than bruises – manipulation, threats, coercion, humiliation, stalking and controlling behaviour are all forms of domestic violence,” Ms Burney said in a statement.
“If something seems wrong with someone you know, ask if they are OK. Don’t leave it to chance.”
Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association is encouraging people to use social media positively over the festive season for the sake of their mental health and wellbeing.
The peak doctor’s body said that while social media could be a good way to easily stay in contact with family and friends, it could also have negative effects.
Among young people, frequent use could lead to feelings of isolation, lowered self-esteem and exposure to cyber-bullying, AMA president Tony Bartone said in a statement.
“Seeing negative posts and having negative interactions on social media has been shown to influence users’ future posts – indicating that this might influence their mood as well,” Dr Bartone said.
“These holidays, try to use social media positively, to share festive messages and contact friends and family.
“Importantly, don’t let social media get in the way of spending quality time with those around you.”
For those who are struggling, suicide prevention service Lifeline will be operating as usual with 250 volunteers available on Christmas day to answer an expected 2,500 calls.
Lifeline spokeswoman Ina Mullin says there’s a lot of “societal pressure” to celebrate at this time of year, and it can bring people to breaking point when they’re already feeling overwhelmed.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14
beyondblue 1300 22 4636
Australian Associated Press