8 November 2017
Dear Friends and Supporters,
I write to let you know Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia has concluded its work with 1800RESPECT.
As many of you know Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia has been the clinical service provider for 1800RESPECT since 2010. In August of this year the lead agency, Medibank Health Solutions a private health insurance company, offered Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia a contract to 31.12.19. The contract was for 25% of the work we did previously or a 75% cut. In addition the contract included a number of requirements that Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia considered to be highly unethical. This included a requirement to hand over all client files notes and to agree that all future calls would be voice recorded.
Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia attempted to negotiate on these matters and when that failed withdrew from the service.
This has meant that over the past few weeks we have made redundant 44 of our highly skilled staff and a further eight have resigned to take on other work.
Despite repeated approaches to the Minister of Social Services Christian Porter and to Medibank both have refused to cover or even contribute toward the redundancy bill. While through the generous support of others we will be able to pay our staff, this will leave the organisation in a very poor state with a considerable rebuild task ahead.
It is hard to not feel punished for doing nothing more than our best to provide the highest quality evidence based service possible to those who deserve nothing less.
There are two lessons for us all in what has occurred:
- Current government practice of contracting out its responsibility for health, welfare and implementation of public policy and services to the private sector is highly problematic because:
- private sector contractors consider the client to be the government, meaning that they will undertake tasks as directed by government with no concern or advocacy for the impacts on services or clients, and
- the focus of service provision is on meeting the KPIs at the least cost to maximise profit, again regardless of the impacts on clients.
- To avoid the financial devastation Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia is currently experiencing, NGOs must now revert to practices of the 70s and 80s and ensure that they have redundancy accruals on their balance sheets. This will result by 30.6.18 in millions of dollars that should be used to provide services being locked up in accruals that may never be required.
Of further concern is the de-gendering of the service although we do trust the women’s services, who will be the second stage providers, to maintain the gendered analysis in service delivery.
Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia will continue to provide its other services including NSW Rape Crisis, training and consultancy programs among other activities. The organisation has learnt a lot from its time as the Trauma Specialists of 1800RESPECT and will continue to use that knowledge and skills in its other services.
We thank the many of you who have supported us with kind words and donations and look forward to continuing to work with you into the future and for a future where women, children and men will live their live free of sexual assault and domestic violence.