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1800RESPECT to partner with leading not-for-profits across Australia for trauma specialist counselling


10 Aug 2017
  • Competitive tender process for the trauma specialist counselling component of 1800RESPECT concluded
  • New arrangement for delivery of trauma specialist counselling to be introduced, with a panel of not-for-profit sector organisations to be formed
  • The service will draw on the expertise of a number of not-for-profit organisations to provide trauma specialist counselling nationally through 1800RESPECT
  • Leading not-for-profits DVConnect in Queensland, Women’s Safety Services in South Australia, safe steps Family Violence Response Centre in Victoria and the current provider Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (R&DVSA) in New South Wales invited to join panel

A new partnership between 1800RESPECT and state-based not-for-profit specialist organisations will be formed to provide the trauma specialist counselling component of 1800RESPECT, which is a world-class national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service providing a crucial service to Australians.

The not-for-profit sexual assault, domestic and family violence organisations invited to be part of the panel of trauma specialist counselling providers are DVConnect in Queensland, Women’s Safety Services in South Australia, safe steps Family Violence Response Centre in Victoria and the current provider R&DVSA in New South Wales.

Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said the new approach would broaden the reach of the 1800RESPECT service by ensuring more state-based not-for-profit sector organisations have a formal role in the delivery of 1800RESPECT across the country.

'Improvements to 1800RESPECT have significantly improved the call answer rate from 33 percent in 2015-2016 to 93 per cent (as at 1 April-30 June 2017). This new approach means 1800RESPECT will be able to achieve significant further improvement for callers. 1800RESPECT will have greater capacity to offer trauma specialist counselling to callers who need it,' Dr Swan said.

'The approach provides the right infrastructure and a broader base of 1800RESPECT partner organisations from across the country to ensure trauma specialist counsellors are available when callers need them.

'Providing the trauma specialist counselling component of 1800RESPECT in this way will also help build a nationally consistent approach to the delivery of trauma specialist counselling for people experiencing or at risk of sexual assault, family and domestic violence.

'The panel arrangement means we have a broader base of partner organisations to rely on, regardless of the location of the caller, ensuring the right number of trauma counsellors are available to answer calls at the right time.

'Our priority is to ensure the best possible care is available to 1800RESPECT callers and that vulnerable people get the support they need as quickly as possible. We are confident this change is in the best interests of the women, men and children who need the crucial services of 1800RESPECT,' Dr Swan said.

Women’s Safety Services CEO Maria Hagias said work towards the outcomes of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children cannot be done in isolation.

'Women’s Safety Services are excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with key partners to provide a 24 hour service that is consistent, responsive and accessible,' Ms Hagias said. safe steps Family Violence Response Centre CEO Annette Gillespie said the new 1800RESPECT trauma specialist counselling arrangements were a positive step for thousands of people living with the effects of trauma.

'State-based specialist family and domestic violence services are a natural partner for the national 1800RESPECT line. Connecting those impacted to counsellors with the appropriate level of experience, knowledge and understanding is vital for their long term recovery,' Ms Gillespie said.

DVConnect CEO Diane Mangan said increased collaboration would be good for the sector and for 1800RESPECT callers.

'We are pleased to be working alongside other state-based lines and 1800RESPECT to provide counselling support to people all throughout Australia who have experienced or are currently living with this violence in their lives,' Ms Mangan said.

The existing contract with R&DVSA for the trauma specialist component of the 1800RESPECT service is due to expire at the end of October 2017. Over the coming months 1800RESPECT will work with the panel members to undertake a smooth transition process to the new arrangement that ensures continuity of service.


Medibank is committed to ongoing improvements to 1800RESPECT and today has also committed to further developing the specialist skills and knowledge of all 1800RESPECT counsellors. The leading national trauma organisation Blue Knot Foundation, which is an existing training partner of 1800RESPECT, will provide additional specialist training for all counsellors. This investment in enhancing the specialist skills, competencies and knowledge of 1800RESPECT counsellors will further enhance the 1800RESPECT service.

Blue Knot Foundation President Dr Cathy Kezelman AM said it was important for trauma counsellors to have the requisite training, knowledge, skills and experience.

'Blue Knot Foundation is honoured to contribute its expertise in delivering training and ongoing professional development sessions to trauma specialist counsellors around the country, who are responding to callers experiencing or at risk of sexual assault and family and domestic violence,' Dr Kezelman said.

From the moment a call or online chat at 1800RESPECT is taken, it is handled by highly experienced and qualified counsellors. These counsellors hold a three year tertiary qualification in a relevant field and have two years minimum full time counselling experience. Trauma counsellors hold a three
year tertiary qualification in a relevant field and have three years minimum trauma specialist counselling experience or full time equivalent experience in specialised sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling and working with people from diverse backgrounds and locations.

About 1800RESPECT

1800RESPECT is a national service that provides confidential information, referral, counselling and support for all Australians impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence. This includes telephone and online information and counselling as well as capacity-building resources to support workers and professionals (such as online toolkits, newsletters and webinars). 1800RESPECT also hosts the Daisy app which provides localised information on support services.

Media enquiries

Emily Ritchie
Ph: 0429 642 418

Bronwyn Perry
Ph: 0438 545 090