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Safe and secure communications for anyone experiencing domestic and family violence

By Lyndall Stoyles November 25, 2021

Nearly 1 in 3 women have been abused in their lifetime*. In times of crises, the numbers rise, including over the past 18 months with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. Most of this violence against women occurs in the home.

Today is the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Domestic and family violence (D&FV) can be physical, financial, emotional or psychological. Victim-survivors of domestic and family violencecan feel trapped inside their own home. And in today’s connected world, many abusers are misusing technology to make it even harder for people to escape or get help.

Disconnecting is not the answer. Because people need to stay connected.

At Telstra, we’re committed to providing access to safe and secure communications for anyone experiencing D&FV.

We’ve set up several initiatives to help, as well as worked with the Telco Together Foundation to create a united framework that will help all telco service providers better support victim-survivors of D&FV.

What we’re doing to help address domestic and family violence

D&FV can happen to anyone and staying connected is especially important if you’re living in a volatile environment. If you or someone you know is experiencing or has left a D&FV situation and needs access to safe communication, we can help.

We know that perpetrators of abuse can track personal devices and communication made from them. Our free payphones are a safe and secure channel for victims of domestic and family violence to seek help and support – simply call 1800 RESPECT from any Telstra payphone nationally.

For Telstra customers, our customer support team is trained to identify affected customers and can refer you to our SAFE team for further help. The SAFE team is specially trained to help victim-survivors stay safely connected to their Telstra services and can be reached between 8am – 6pm weekdays on 1800 452 566.

Since 2014, we’ve also been close partners with WESNET, the peak body for specialist women’s domestic and family violence services. We’ve donated over 34,000 smartphones with $30 of pre-paid credit to WESNET to give to victim-survivors impacted by D&FV as well as providing our dedicated SAFE customer support team to help victim-survivors safely activate the service.

WESNET provides the phones through its network of specially trained frontline agencies across the country through our joint Safe Connections program.

Where to get help

Call 000 if you are in immediate danger.

Call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) – The National Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Counselling Service offers confidential online and telephone counselling, information and referral services.

Call the Telstra SAFE team (1800 452 566) – our specially trained consultants help victim-survivors stay safely connected to their Telstra services.

Ask Izzy – Ask Izzy is a website that connects people in need with housing, a meal, money help, family violence support, counselling and much more. It is free and anonymous, and if you’re on the Telstra mobile network, you can access Ask Izzy on your phone even if you don’t have credit or access to Wi-Fi.

Use this map to find your nearest payphone:

For more information on how we can all help, go to domestic and family violence assistance on telstra.com.au.

*World Health Organization, on behalf of the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence Against Women Estimation and Data (2021). Violence against women prevalence estimates, 2018. Global, regional and national prevalence estimates for intimate partner violence against women and global and regional prevalence estimates for non-partner sexual violence against women.

Telstra News |

Staying safely connected: more phones for domestic violence survivors

By Michael Ackland April 22, 2020

Evidence is emerging that the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 is increasing incidents of domestic and family violence (D&FV).

Police are reporting higher numbers of callouts to D&FV incidents. Search engines are flagging that there are significant increases in searches for D&FV support. Research tells us that during disasters, the incidents of D&FV increase. We also know that the number of D&FV incidents increase when families spend more time together during holidays like Christmas and Easter.

To better understand the impact of COVID-19 on frontline D&FV services, WESNET, the peak body for specialist women’s domestic and family violence services, surveyed their member organisations throughout April. Findings show that a phone is now the primary way for frontline services to support their clients.

Telstra and WESNET, in partnership since 2014, work together to help women impacted by D&FV to stay safely connected. Telstra donates smartphones with $30 of pre-paid credit to WESNET to give to women impacted by D&FV. WESNET provides the phones through its network of specially trained frontline agencies across the country.

This April we are providing WESNET with 6,000 smartphones. This will bring the number of devices provided so far in 2020 to 8,000. We want to help where we can, and this is something we know makes a difference. For survivors, having access to a smartphone that is safe and knowing how to keep it secure, is a lifeline. During COVID-19 this has become even more essential.

Domestic violence is a pattern of power and control. Many of the women that Safe Connections helps have never had access to a phone in their own name before. For others, the technology that makes our lives more connected and convenient – social media, online accounts and the wide range of apps and services now available through them – is misused by abusers, enabling them to harass, threaten, monitor, stalk and even locate their victims. This type of abuse can escalate after a victim leaves a relationship, making it impossible for them to truly escape and rebuild their lives.

The Telstra Safe Connections program does not just provide a smartphone. Teaching women how to set up their new smartphone safely and stop this abuse is another critical element of this program.

We will continue to provide phones to Safe Connections. However, phones are only part of what is needed to continue the program. Government funding which supports the WESNET team behind the program ends in March 2021, and donations are needed to keep this vital program running.

For more information on how we can all help, go to domestic and family violence assistance on telstra.com.au.