Senate debates

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Questions without Notice: Additional Answers

Domestic and Family Violence

3:04 pm

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (Victoria, Liberal Party, Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

I have some information that I said I would bring back to the chamber in answer to a question by Senator Kakoschke-Moore yesterday. MHS, the current provider of 1800RESPECT, has commenced a tender process for the trauma specialist counselling component of the service. The subcontract for trauma specialist counselling has always been due to expire on 30 June this year. Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia knew its subcontract was due to expire on 30 June, and the possibility of a tender process being conducted was raised with RDVSA on several occasions before the EOI was announced.

MHS is responsible for this subcontracting arrangement under its contract with the department to deliver 1800RESPECT. As a first step in the tender process, MHS advertised an EOI on Tenders Online, on 14 February, inviting suitable organisations to submit a response by 17 February. MHS has invited selected organisations who responded to the EOI to submit a formal tender. The process will be open for around 30 days. The Department of Social Services does not have a role in the tender process. It is up to MHS to complete the tender and ensure it continues to meet its contractual obligations to the department. The EOI is open to appropriate services with the expertise and capacity to deliver a quality specialist trauma counselling telephone service to people impacted by family or domestic violence or sexual assault.

MHS has advised that an independent probity officer and clinical expert with experience in family and domestic violence support services is included on the selection panel to ensure a competitive and impartial tender process. MHS has also advised that it is working with its own legal and procurement teams, as well as an external probity adviser, to ensure a smooth and fair tender process. I am advised that the minister's office has offered to provide a briefing to the senator on this issue if she wishes to take it up.