Government welcomes new approach to 1800RESPECT

The Turnbull Government today welcomed Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) new approach to providing trauma specialist counselling through the 1800RESPECT service for victims of domestic or family violence and sexual abuse.

Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, welcomed MHS’s further improved approach to the delivery of the 1800RESPECT service, designed to increase the high quality supports provided to people through 1800RESPECT.

“MHS will increase the number of not-for-profit trauma specialist counselling providers from one to four, to better deliver this critical service to people affected by domestic or family violence and sexual abuse,” the Minister said.

“The four proposed specialist trauma counselling providers are:  DV Connect in Queensland; SafeSteps in Victoria; Women’s Safety Services in South Australia; and current provider, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (R&DVSA) in New South Wales.

“All these organisations are recognised experts and leaders in the family and domestic violence support sector and already play a critical role in supporting women and families affected by family and domestic violence.

“The new arrangement will provide services nationwide and represents the next phase in significant improvements for 1800RESPECT to lift the capacity of this important service since the Government-instigated reforms of recent years.

“Additional funding was provided to 1800RESPECT in 2015-16 after a review commissioned by the Government.  At the time the average call wait time was 10.3 minutes and 67 per cent of calls went unanswered.  That meant more than 42,000 people seeking services gave up waiting before getting through.  Clearly, that was not sustainable and not delivering what was needed for those seeking support through 1800RESPECT.

“The initial reforms and additional funding dramatically reduced call waiting times to 37 seconds, with 81 per cent of all calls being answered in 20 seconds and 93 per cent of all calls being answered.

“As Minister my priority has been to ensure 1800RESPECT provides a responsive and high quality service for all those impacted by family and domestic violence and sexual assault and I am confident these new arrangements will help achieve just that.”

Minister Porter said that with the further improvements to the delivery of the service, total funding for 1800RESPECT would reach just over $19 million in 2017-18, an increase of about $5 million on the previous year.  This increase includes provision for an extra 17 full-time equivalent trauma counselling specialists and additional training for staff right across the service, so that in one year we will move from one trauma counselling specialist provider with 31 full-time equivalent counsellors to four providers with 48 full-time equivalent counsellors.

All trauma specialist counsellors employed through 1800RESPECT are required to have a three year tertiary degree or equivalent in a relevant field, and at least three years counselling experience. In addition, they will receive training by the Blue Knot Foundation to ensure support provided across the country is consistent and meets world’s best practice.

“Having a collaborative effort by a range of specialist not-for-profit organisations will ensure 1800RESPECT remains a world-class national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week that is well placed to meet any future demand,” the Minister said.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000. For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling services call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au