Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

New counselling service launched to support Australians who have experienced violence

Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis will today launch a new telephone counselling service for Australians who have experienced or are at risk of physical or sexual violence.

1800 RESPECT is a confidential service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week over the phone. Australians can access the line by calling 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

Ms Ellis said 1800 RESPECT will give callers access to qualified and specialist counsellors who will provide counselling, information, advice, and referrals, free of charge.

“Sexual assault and domestic and family violence are among the most pervasive forms of violence. They have serious and often devastating consequences for victims, their extended families and the community,” Ms Ellis said.

1800 RESPECT has been designed to provide both immediate and ongoing assistance that is individualised to the often complex needs of victims of violence and their families.”

The service will also provide professional support, such as debriefing and supervision, to staff from small and isolated services which deal with people who have experienced physical or sexual violence.

Over the coming months 1800 RESPECT will also be expanded to include online counselling and coordination with existing State and Territory domestic violence and sexual assault services.

“Nearly one in three Australian women experience physical violence and almost one in five will experience sexual violence at some point during their lives,” Ms Ellis said.

1800 RESPECT will give those who have experienced or are at risk of violence access to counsellors in a confidential and non-threatening environment. “

“The counselling service will aim to equip callers with the advice and information they need to break the cycle of violence.”
Medibank Health Solutions will manage the new service and the New South Wales Rape Crisis Centre will deliver professional, specialist counselling services.

An advisory board will oversee the implementation of the counselling service and ensure ongoing improvements to service delivery. It will be made up of experts from the family, domestic, and sexual violence sector.

1800 RESPECT supports the Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, which is in the final stages of development.

The Australian Government has provided $12.5 million over four years for the creation and delivery of 1800 RESPECT.