Domestic violence victims will be able to access specialist counselling and support by text message under an initiative designed to make seeking help more accessible.
The domestic violence helpline 1800RESPECT has expanded its services to texts to allow people in unsafe situations, who can’t access a telephone or web chat, to get help.
The hotline provided more than 268,629 responses in the 2022/23 financial year and the text expansion is expected to particularly help people living in rural and remote communities and those who may have limited access to technology or the internet.
Like the phone and online service, text support will be available 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
The number victims can text to seek help is 0458 737 732.
The program was soft launched two weeks ago and has already helped multiple victim-survivors.
In one case, a user had lost her voice due to strangulation the night before and was unable to speak the next day.
She was able to seek and secure emergency accommodation through the SMS service.
Another user was able to text the behaviour of their partner to understand if it was coercive control and verbal abuse.
Once their partner was no longer with them, they contacted the service by phone for a safe and in-depth discussion.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said it was important for people experiencing or at risk of family, domestic and sexual violence to have easy access to support.
The text service would provide a more discreet and flexible way to contact the service, she added.
“This new SMS service channel will provide greater choice for people to seek support when they need it most, and empower users to reach out via a channel that best suits their circumstances,” she said.
Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher said the expansion aimed to make it quicker and easier for victim-survivors to seek help.
“It’s important that support services keep pace with technology,” she said.
“The expansion of 1800RESPECT to include a text service will make a difference to the lives of women seeking help.”
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Lifeline 13 11 14