January 26, 2022

The Morrison Government is pleased to announce 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.

Member for Wannon, Dan Tehan said the new, five-year contract would ensure victim-survivors across Wannon 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 experiencing violence,” said Mr Tehan.

“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.”

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.

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, Women’s Safety Services SA, DVConnect, On the Line and Canberra Rape Crisis Centre for their commitment to delivering a high-quality national service since 2010.

Media contact | Cate Mercer-Grant 0408 564 232