Our history

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Key dates in our history

From our establishment at meeting of 500 women at Redfern Town Hall as the Sydney Rape Crisis Collective to today.

A meeting of 500 women at Redfern Town Hall established the Sydney Rape Crisis Collective;

Unpaid workers provided crucial community services to support women who had been raped.

Funding received after an approach to the late then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, the collective became the first specialised service for women who had been raped;

Located at Women’s Liberation House.

Introduction of self-defence classes for women.

Phone-in topics: women’s experience of child sexual assault, and women who had been raped by professionals.

Annual campaign theme was sexual harassment on campus.

Conducted a phone-in on marital rape; community education on changes to NSW law re-marital rape.

Girls in Schools’, a rape awareness programme for schools commenced, and led to many schools introducing self defence classes and assertiveness training for their students.

The first edition of ‘Surviving Rape’ was published. Second edition published in 1989, featuring a chapter written especially for Aboriginal women.

The collective struggled to validate its existence in the face of opposition from local community and government agencies. Outcome was recognition as an essential service and increased funding.

Workers provided: 24/7 Telephone counselling for sexual assault survivors in NSW; On-call support - accompanied women to medical/other support, Police, Court; Outreach - visited survivors in their own homes or at refuges;

Youth Worker employed to offer a specialist service to young women, as a survey outcome;

Community education was provided to community groups, schools and tertiary institutions, discussion nights at Women’s Detention Centre;

First response training delivered to workers at women’s refuges, services and hospitals; Migrant Liaison involved provision of training and information to 17 migrant services;

Halfway House established to provide medium-term stays for clients, conditional on counselling.

A sessional face to face counselling worker employed to meet increased demand;

Three support groups established: two for adult rape survivors, one for adult survivors of incest;

Referrals Database established;

Administrator role established;

Survey on Sexual Abuse of Developmentally Disabled Women was run with the aim of working with other services to establish special rehabilitation and housing for these women;

Monthly open day for students seeking information on sexual assault/about the centre.

Two Aboriginal counsellors were employed to work from ‘Balan Gundi’ (‘women’s place’);

The service was promoted via Val Morgan cinema advertising.

Sydney Rape Crisis Centre became incorporated under the NSW Association’s Incorporation Act.

Management of the Half Way House was handed over to Maori Women’s Council;

No longer able to support the Women’s School of Self Defence financially;

Focus on longer term counselling as well as short-term immediate crisis counselling;

Regional Tour of 30 towns in five weeks to promote ‘Surviving Rape’.

Staffing was not sufficient to cover a 24/7 roster;

Telephone and face to face counselling continued to be provided, two support groups delivered, however outreach and on call support work was severely limited;

Aboriginal counselling limited to sexual assault;

Introduced a ‘008’ free-call number on an additional telephone line to improve accessibility to women in rural areas; proportion of clients in rural NSW increased;

Purchased a Macintosh computer.

The service extended its hours of operation to include overnights.

RCC was the first sexual assault counselling service in NSW to make its services accessible to deaf and hearing impaired women;

1994 Manifesto Project to raise community awareness about sexual violence propaganda was established with the Coalition Against Sexual Violence Propaganda;

1995 Bosnian Women’s Project established to raise awareness and increase support for women in the Bosnian community who have been sexually assaulted;

Delivered a petition Demanding rape to be recognised as a war crime to the UN and the International Criminal Tribunal;

Published the 3rd edition of ‘Surviving Rape’.

Focus changed from longer 60 minute counselling call to shorter 20 minute crisis calls;

Re-established the support group program;

Sought to increase accessibility to women with disabilities:

- Auslan training for workers;

- Information resources produced in Auslan;

- Surviving Rape audio book produced

Surviving Rape: A Handbook about Rape for Survivors, Family, Friends and Workers, narrated by Jenny Vuletic, was awarded Special Commendation for an outstanding non-winning entry in the National Library of Australia's TDK Australian Audio Book Awards.

Significant increase in demand for and provision of telephone counselling services;

Ear to Ear counselling program of weekly counselling sessions for rural women;

Delivered workshops for workers on Sexual assault and disability, and Ritual Abuse;

Hosted a visit from Korean women researching sexual assault services in NSW;

Contributed to the Wood Royal Commission into Child Protection in NSW.

Name changed to NSW Rape Crisis Centre;

An upgrade of Message Bank technology contributed to a 78% increase in telephone counselling calls to the Sydney line;

A 112% increase in calls from rural areas due to engagement with rural services;

Significant effort to improve service accessibility to high-risk groups;

Hosted three students on placement;

Participated in consultation about the review of S409B of the Crimes Act, NSW.

Management committee developed a three year Strategic Plan;

Provided training to women working at the Indonesian Welfare Association in Sydney to improve their capacity to respond to Indonesian refugees arriving in Australia following the riots in Jakarta (May 1998);

Presented a number of significant conference papers:

- World Conference on Family Violence in Singapore

- Partnerships, Prevention and Rural Action Conference, Wellington

- No More Falling Through the Net, Sydney

The number of phone contacts increased by 27% over the previous three years;

The centre was awarded a Certificate of Quality following a review of performance against the Standards for Women’s Health Centres;

The Centre joined the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence;

Best Practice Manual for the Specialised Sexual Assault Crisis Telephone Counselling was launched;

The fourth edition of “Surviving Rape” was published;

The centre joined the NSW Police Sexual Assault Interagency;

Training programs were developed for workplaces in:

- Managing Sexual Assault in the Workplace.

- Managing Vicarious Trauma Management

An Australian Council Research Grant enabled the centre, lead by Professor Moira Carmody, to participate in the research, development, implementation and evaluation of the ‘Sex and Ethics’ Sexual Assault Primary Prevention Program;

Training in crisis intervention was developed for counselling professionals;

NSW Rape Crisis Centre website launched (factsheets, media news, etc);

Rape Crisis Online launched – an online counselling service for those who had experienced sexual violence;.

Commenced representation on the NSW Sex Crimes Task Force;

With Professor Catharine Lumby and the University of Sydney the organisation participated in the development of the ‘Playing by the Rules’ program;

Client contact increased by 55% as a result of innovative promotional activities.

The organisation was awarded the ‘Best Solution to an Identified OH&S Issue’ award by WorkCover NSW for its vicarious trauma management model.

The organisation was funded to provide the ‘Van Against Violence’ program which offered training for workers on responding with compassion from 31 locations;

An online therapeutic support group was established for young women who had experienced sexual violence;

The second edition of the Best Practice Manual for Specialised Sexual Assault Crisis Telephone and Online Counselling was published;

The Community Based Counselling Service commenced;

Participated in the development of Best Practice Standards for the Primary Prevention through Education of Sexual Assault;

Representation on the NSW Victims Advisory Board;

Commenced providing training to NSW Police Domestic Violence Liaison Officers and Detectives;

The organisation was accredited to the Quality Improvement Council Health and Community Services Standards.

The organisation contributed to the development of ‘The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children’;

The organisation was funded to provide telephone and online counselling for ‘1800RESPECT’ the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service;

The organisation researched the needs of rural and remote practitioners.

A national ‘Dunny Door Campaign’ for the 1800RESPECT service was delivered;

Gunbalunya Safe House Project provided workers with intensive mentoring, in-service training and professional development;

‘Hey Sis, we’ve got your back’ program established to support Aboriginal women who are working in their communities against sexual assault;

The organisation commenced representation on the NSW Health Sexual Assault Services State-wide and the Trauma Informed Care Network;

Maintained accreditation with the Quality Improvement Council Health & Community Services Standards.

New premises were officially opened by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of New South Wales;

The organisation changed its name: Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia to reflect its national focus and increased range of services;

The organisation established Sexual Assault Counselling Australia to provide telephone and face to face counselling services to people affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault;

A delegation from China with the Australian Human Rights Commission was hosted;

Secondary Prevention Counselling Program established for men at risk of using violence in their relationships;

Trauma specialist counselling provided to therapists supporting those impacted by the Royal Commission;

Significant expansion of training and Professional Services work;

In September, the Department of Social Services engaged KPMG to review the 1800 RESPECT helpline service model and recommended options for reducing call waiting times and subsequently call abandonment rates.

KPMG identified three options from that review: increased funding for the existing operating model; a triage function; and a trauma-specialist triage function.

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia implemented a range of changes to our service model that succeeded in reducing call waiting times and abandonment rates and proposed option 3: the trauma-specialist triage function.

Medibank Health Solutions was selected by the Department of Social Services to implement the triage function, which commenced in August 2016.

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, sponsored by The Hunting Ground Australia Project, developed the Sex, Safety and Respect prevention through education package of programs for Universities.

The Full Stop Foundation was launched at Parliament House in March 2015. The Full Stop Foundation was established to seek additional funding to expand our support services and prevention programs.

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia completed a key research project "Counselling Service Modalities and the Needs of Australians affected by Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence".

The findings of this project were shared at the International Mental Health Conference 2016 held in Queensland, where the work was well received.

Since 2010, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia had been the clinical service provider of this national 24/7 telephone and online counselling service for anyone in Australia whose life has been impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence. The funding arrangement was via a sub-contract with Medibank Health Solutions. Due to ethical concerns about the service, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia withdrew from 1800RESPECT in October 2017.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia engaged Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia to provide trauma counselling to bank customers who were escaping domestic violence via the Domestic and Family Violence Emergency support program.

In May 2018 the Good Hope Foundation of Taiwan invited Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia to present at their International Conference on Gendered Violence. Conference delegates from across Asia where interested in Australia’s legal response and how the service systems, including counselling, emergency accommodation and financial support, operated.

To support non-government organisations in their critical work the Australian Services Union launched the Civil Society Campaign, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions the Change the Rules Campaign. Both campaigns were fully supported by Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia as they seek to ensure fair standards and wages in our sector, proper and transparent funding, and safe and respectful work environments.