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Telstra Health secures five-year contract to deliver 1800RESPECT

JMR with Minister for Families and Social Services Minister for Women’s Safety Manager of Government Business in the Senate Senator the Hon Anne Ruston

The Morrison Government has secured Telstra Health as the successful provider to deliver 1800RESPECT – the national family, domestic and sexual violence counselling service, following an extensive open and competitive procurement process.

Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said the Government was committed to ensuring 1800RESPECT continues to provide the highest quality support as the national front door for all Australians seeking help when affected by family, domestic and sexual violence.

“Through this process we are ensuring the future service meets the diverse and complex needs of people seeking support, as our understanding of trauma and the pervasive nature of gendered violence continues to evolve,” Minister Ruston said.

“New technology will be built into the service from July to provide additional options for users including text messages, video calls and follow-ups on referrals with users when safe to do so.

“Following advice from the sector we are making sure the technology improvements support a ‘tell it once’ model of service delivery to minimise the need for users to repeat their story.

“We have also overhauled the funding model for 1800RESPECT, moving away from cost-per-contact to payment on the length of time support is provided so that the service is being funded on the basis of user needs.”

Minister Ruston said through the procurement process, the Government has also responded to Recommendation 54 of the Respect@Work report.

“The Government is ensuring that 1800RESPECT will expand its service offering to provide psychological support and referrals to people affected by workplace sexual harassment, as well as maintaining de-identified and disaggregated data on contacts regarding workplace sexual harassment,” Minister Ruston said.

Senator Sarah Henderson said the new, five-year contract would ensure victim-surivors would continue to have access to free and confidential counselling support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The service also provides advice to family, friends and colleagues who want to support someone they know who is expericing violence,” Senator Henderson said.

“We know that victim-survivors come from all walks of life and it is important that we ensure no matter where you live there is support available should you need it.”

Telstra Health will deliver 1800RESPECT for an initial five years with the possibility of extension, at an estimated contract value of around $200 million – noting the service and funding is demand driven.

Telstra Health is uniquely placed to provide national coverage and deliver a fully integrated technology solution that ensures 1800RESPECT continues to be a high-quality, accessible and inclusive service for all people across Australia who are affected by domestic, family and sexual violence and workplace sexual harassment.

Telstra Health will work collaboratively with DVConnect and other specialist providers including Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and other organisations that support communities who experience barriers in accessing support.

Ongoing funding for 1800RESPECT was first provided in the 2020-21 Budget. Prior to that funding for the service was secured on an annual basis.

There will be a staged transition process working closely with the incumbent provider Medibank Health Solutions, to ensure there are no breaks in service or impact on service delivery between now and when Telstra Health begins delivery of 1800RESPECT from 1 July 2022.

Demand for 1800RESPECT has grown rapidly since it started operating in 2010 when it was estimated to have received around 20,000 calls each year. During the 2020-21 financial year, 1800RESPECT responded to more than 286,000 phone and online contacts.

Minister Ruston thanked Medibank Health Solutions and their subcontractors Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, Womens Safety Services SA, DVConnect, On the Line and Canberra Rape Crisis Centre for their commitment in delivering a high quality national service since 2010.

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