Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia has a long and proud history, and has engaged with the Australian Government since 2004 in its work to reduce violence against women. Our contributions have included:
- Consultation, participation and comment on the ‘Australia Says No’ campaign
- The establishment of the National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children and their report, Time for Action, which informed the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.
A key stage one action of the National Plan was the establishment of a national sexual assault, domestic and family violence telephone and online trauma counselling service. The clinical or specialist trauma counselling component of what became known as 1800RESPECT has been provided by Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia since its inception in 2010 and in the Government’s and Medibank Health Solution’s own literature regularly identifies the service currently provided by Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia as a world class best practice counselling service. For over 40 years, we have been committed to providing the best quality care for people who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence.
In August however, we made the difficult decision to withdraw from the 1800RESPECT service due to serious ethical concerns with the contract. With a heavy heart, our organisation will need to make 70 of our dedicated and highly skilled staff redundant at the end of October.
As a Government funded service Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia was not permitted to put money aside to cover redundancy payments. In the past Governments have recognised that when a contract ends for a Government service provided by an NGO, they usually bear the responsibility of providing funding for these entitlements
However, this current Government maintains that the Department of Social Services is not obliged to provide the $1 million needed for the redundancy entitlements because our employees could potentially go on to work for another provider of the 1800RESPECT service (many of which are located in other states and operate on different terms and conditions), staff should not be considered ‘redundant’ but ‘displaced’.
The Government is abdicating its responsibility to our highly committed and skilled workforce that who have providing the 1800RESPECT trauma counselling service for the past seven years.
If the funds required are not provided by the Federal Government, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia will have no choice but to liquidate its assets and close its doors – and with it, vital services will be lost such as the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, Sexual Assault Counselling Australia, and the NSW Community Based Counselling Service.
With your help, we can ensure that Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia receives the financial support needed to continue our work providing care for women, men and children who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence.
1. Contact your MP and Senators
Please contact your federal representatives and ask them to ensure that our organisation receives the funding needed for these redundancies. You can contact the representatives for your local area, as well as the offices of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Social Services Christian Porter.
You can find out how to get in touch with your MP and Senators here.
If you are speaking to an MP or Senator’s office on the phone, you can use the following message –
“Hi, my name is ______ and I’m a constituent from ______.
I’m calling in regard to Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia withdrawing from the contract with the Government operated 1800RESPECT service due to their serious ethical concerns listed on their website here.
I’m concerned that the 70 dedicated Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia workers who are being made redundant as a consequence of this organisation withdrawing from the 1800RESPECT service will not receive their redundancy entitlements
Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia may have to close down if the Government does not fund these payments.
I support the Government taking responsibility for funding for these redundancy payments, as they have done in the past.
This issue needs to be escalated to the office of Christian Porter
Thank you for your time.”
You can also write a letter or email to your representatives. Our Key Concerns page highlights all the areas of concern that factored into our decision to withdraw from the 1800RESPECT contract.
2. Contribute to the Senate Inquiry
On 11 September 2017, the Senate established an inquiry into the 1800RESPECT service.
If you have engaged with the 1800RESPECT service in some way, and you would like to express your concerns about the changes to the service since the introduction of the triage model and in light of the upcoming changes, you can find out more and make your submission here.
Thank you so much for your support at this very sad time.