Today I’m asking you to sign the petition to show your support for 1800RESPECT workers and victims of domestic and sexual violence.

In the community sector ASU members at Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, the unionised workforce who run 1800RESPECT, have been told they have to tender for their jobs despite having run the service since it first started in 2010.

On Monday, 13 February workers at the Rape and Domestic Violence Service (RDVSA), known to most people as 1800RESPECT were told that their service is to be advertised for tender. RDVSA was given just one week to lodge an ‘expression of interest’ in continuing to provide the service that they have already been providing for years.

The RDVSA Needs our help – please sign the petition today

The Federal Government is responsible for providing support to victims of domestic and sexual violence. This includes the operation of the national telephone and online support service 1800RESPECT.

Since its establishment in 2010, the federal government has funded multinational health insurer, Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) to operate 1800RESPECT. MHS contracted the specialist sexual assault and domestic violence counselling service to the Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA), a world leading specialist trauma counselling not-for-profit (NFP) organisation.

Already the support provided by 1800RESPECT has been weakened when the Federal Government gave $3.5 million to Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) to run a triage call centre in August 2016, meaning victims of rape and domestic violence aren’t immediately put through to a specialist counsellor.

In February 2017, MHS announced that it would put out to tender the specialist counselling service. RDVSA, which has provided the service since it was established was given less than one week to lodge their ‘expression of interest’ in continuing to provide their service. This move to force RDVSA to tender could see the entire 1800RESPECT service devoid of specialist counsellors and run entirely by a for-profit multinational.

The Federal Government cannot allow any organisation to profit from rape. It must ensure that women, men and children experiencing trauma from domestic or sexual violence have the best support available.

The Federal Government must directly fund RDVSA and provide sufficient funds to employ the counsellors it needs, and the telephone infrastructure needed to answer all calls from victims of sexual and domestic violence.

With a decision to be made in March this is urgent, so please take two minutes to fill in the petition to support the service at 1800RESPECT.

Graeme Kelly
General Secretary
United Services Union