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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 192


(Questions No. 554 and 592)

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

1) Can he guarantee that all of the contacts made via the telephones and web chat line for the 'first responder' model being implemented in relation to 1800RESPECT, will be answered by women.2) Can he advise if the Government required Medibank Health Solutions to ensure that all of the 'first responders' in relation to contacts coming in via 1800RESPECT, are women.

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

(1) All contacts made to 1800RESPECT via the telephone line and web chat for the first response triage model are answered by women.

(2) The Government requires Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) to ensure that all counsellors have a minimum three year tertiary degree in a relevant field and minimum two years full time counselling experience. 1800RESPECT is also required to provide best practice counselling, the same requirement that has been imposed on 1800RESPECT since 2010.

There is no mandated contractual requirement for either MHS or their subcontractor, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, to use only female counsellors, however this approach has been adopted by both organisations to ensure the service meets the needs of callers.

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.