MEDIA RELEASE: 75% funding cut to 1800RESPECT counsellors


‘People living with rape and violence deserve better than the lowest possible tender price.’

‘The federal government’s decision to cut funding to the Rape and Domestic Violence Service will mean that the service may have to close.’

‘Women, children, and men living with rape and family violence need the Prime Minister to intervene – now.’

Facts:

The federal government will cut funds by 75% to Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA) which provides specialist sexual assault and domestic violence counselling to 1800RESPECT.

This will mean:

  • People who call 1800RESPECT will no longer speak with a specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counsellor.
  • Up to 110 specialist sexual assault and domestic violence workers and other specialists employed at RDVSA will lose their jobs In October.
  • A service that has existed for 50 years and is recognised by the United Nations as the expert in their field may have to close.
  • The profits of Medibank Health Solutions (MHS), who administers the 1800RESPECT service, will probably increase.

Background:

Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA) has been providing specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counselling for almost 50 years

RDVSA is regarded internationally, including by the U.N. as the expert in this specialist field of counselling

In 2010 1800RESPECT was established as the national crisis counselling line for women, children and men who are sexually assaulted or living with domestic violence.

The public health insurer, Medibank was appointed to administer the service and RDVSA was appointed to provide specialist sexual assault and family violence trauma counselling.

Medibank was privatised by the Abbott government and is now a multinational private health insurance company.

Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) continues to receive government funding to administer 1800RESPECT and now operates 1800RESPECT for profit, through its MHS telehealth business.

In 2016 the federal government’s contract with MHS and with RDVSA expired.

MHS put the 1800RESPECT counselling service out to tender.

The MHS contract was not put out to tender.  The federal government simply extended it.

Federal Minister for DSS, Christian Porter and MHS have now announced that RDVSA will lose 75% of its funding and must operate as part of the MHS call centre model. 

Three other services around the country are also funded to provide counselling for 1800RESPECT.

These services mainly provide emergency housing to women escaping violence.

Quotes attributable to Natalie Lang, State Secretary, ASU, NSW ACT (Services) branch

The Australian Services Union represents the women who are employed at the Rape and Domestic Violence Service.

This decision will mean that women, children and men who are living with rape and violence will no longer be able to speak directly to an experienced and qualified specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counsellor.

More than 100 women – most of whom are specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counsellors could lose their jobs.

It could mean the closure of a service that has operated for 50 years.

It is just not good enough to say all the right words and shed the odd tear when you talk about stopping violence against women and children.

People living with rape and violence don’t need your tears.  They don’t need nice words.

They need a professional, specialist service run by people who know what they’re doing. 

What they’re getting is the lowest possible tender price.

Services for people living with rape and family violence should not be provided on the basis of the lowest possible tender price.

The only winner here is MHS.  I’m really not sure how you make a profit from a government funded service for women, children and men who are living with rape and violence.

I’m not sure what sort of organisation even thinks about how to do that.

The Prime Minister likes to think of himself as a sensitive modern man.

This announcement shows that Malcolm Turnbull has been badly let down by his minister and MHS, which he funds.

For further information contact: Jan Primrose 02 9310 400.