Medibank is proud to run the 1800RESPECT service; it is a vital service for the Australian community that provides critical help to those impacted by sexual assault, domestic and family violence.
We have delivered this service since 2010 with a single not-for-profit partner. Now we run this service with three not-for-profit partners.
Despite claims by Simone White in a comment piece in Red Flag, 1800RESPECT is responding to more contacts than ever before.
We know that stories of inaccurate nature can lead to women who have been impacted by violence losing confidence in 1800RESPECT and not reaching out for support.
Our data clearly show that negative and incorrect articles lead directly to a reduction of calls. This is a reduction in people reaching out for support when they are at their most vulnerable.
The media have an important role to play in increasing women’s awareness and confidence in 1800RESPECT so that they may reach out for support when they are experiencing violence and concerned for their safety.
In 2015-16 with a single not-for -profit provider, 42,000 calls to 1800RESPECT were unanswered (67 percent), and there was an average wait time of 10 minutes.
We knew this had to change. And it has.
98,466 contacts were answered by 1800RESPECT last financial year, and it is important to remember that every contact, be it over the phone or an online chat, is an Australian in need of this vital service.
Demand for 1800RESPECT continues to grow, and calls have surged since the #MeToo movement.
More Australians are reaching out for support with the knowledge that they will be believed and listened to without being judged.
Let’s make sure we don’t undo this.
Nicole McMahon is general manager of 1800RESPECT. Read Simone White’s response.