Tuesday, 20 June 2017
That the Senate—
(a) recognises that sexual and family violence cause terrible trauma to women, men and children throughout Australia, destroying the lives of individuals, their families and communities;
(b) acknowledges the tragedy that, despite national campaigns, the rate of violence against women and children in particular continues to increase throughout Australia;
(c) recognises the extraordinary work of specialist trauma counsellors and other workers who provide crisis intervention and other vital support to those who live with and survive violence;
(d) notes that Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia provides a unique service, including specialist trauma counselling services, to 1800RESPECT and to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and is recognised internationally as providing the benchmark in provision of specialist sexual assault and family violence trauma counselling;
(e) notes that serious concerns have been raised about the new 'triage' model implemented by Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) which is a private, for-profit company delivering 1800RESPECT on behalf of the Federal Government; and
(f) calls on the Federal Government to directly fund Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia to deliver 1800RESPECT with sufficient and sustainable funding so that it can employ sufficient specialist sexual assault and family violence trauma counsellors, and procure sufficient and appropriate accommodation and infrastructure to continue to provide this essential, lifesaving service.
The government has made significant improvements to the 1800RESPECT service to ensure that those calling the service receive appropriate support. We have introduced a triage service which has seen the number of calls answered grow from 33 per cent prior to the service being reformed to currently over 90 per cent of calls being answered. This change has also seen the average call wait time reduced from 10.3 minutes to the current average of 51 seconds. Importantly, these changes have allowed Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia to focus on what they do best: provide specialist trauma counselling to those people who need it while other calls, including calls for general information, are responded to by trained counsellors who have a minimum three-year degree in a related field and two years of counselling experience.
Question agreed to.