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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 191

Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia

(Questions No. 553 and 591)

Ms Butler asked the Minister for Social Services, in writing, on 9 November 2016 and 10 November 2016:

In respect of the 'first responder' model being based on people with lesser skills than those of the counsellors who are engaged by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, including that they are not necessarily skilled in trauma counselling, how is the Government ensuring that notwithstanding these lesser qualifications, women are receiving the counselling they need.

Mr Porter: The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

A careful system of assessment and referral has been developed to support the first responder model. The safety and wellbeing of callers has been the highest priority in the development of the model. The new model was developed in close consultation with sector representatives including Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (R&DVSA).

Under the first responder triage model, all calls are answered by qualified counsellors, with a three year tertiary degree in a relevant field that includes Social Services, Social Work, Welfare Studies, Psychology and Counselling. All counsellors have a minimum of two years full time counselling experience and are trained in trauma-informed counselling. These counsellors provide initial counselling and support, information and referrals to appropriate support services.

Callers who require or request trauma specialist counselling are warm referred through a three way transfer between the first responder counsellor, the R&DVSA counsellor and the caller.

The implementation of the first response triage model has been successful. The percentage of abandoned calls has reduced from 44 per cent in 2015-16 to an average of 5.5 per cent since implementation. The 1800RESPECT service is also answering at least 80 per cent of calls within 20 seconds. This means women contacting the service are now having their calls answered and receiving the support they need, when they need it.