Thousands of calls to Australia’s domestic violence support hotline are going unanswered each month, with the federal government saying it is looking for a new provider for the service.
The 1800RESPECT domestic support line received 27,200 calls In December, with about 1,470 going unanswered.
The national phone service is being delivered by Medibank Health Services but the Department of Social Services has confirmed the hunt is underway for a new provider.
A tender is out for the contract, with a decision expected next month.
During Senate estimates, Department of Social Services officials have confirmed the phone line works to a standard of answering 90 per cent of calls.
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Senior department official Liz Hefren-Webb told the hearing, although some calls went unanswered, people seeking support could call back later for assistance.
“The goal is to answer as many as possible. Of course we would like them all to be answered,” she told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday.
Call times vary and staffing rates are based on predictions on how many people could seek support each day.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the answer rate for March was 95 per cent.
In response to questioning from Labor senator Jenny McAllister, officials could not say if the answer rate goal would still be 90 per cent for the tender.
Funding for the line is paid on a per call basis and culturally diverse services is a requirement of the contract.
The 1800RESPECT website is available in 28 languages.
If you are in NSW and would like to make contact with a counsellor, or any other form of support, call the Victims Access Line on 1800 633 063 or Rape Crisis on 1800 424 017. A trained counsellor can discuss your needs and refer you to someone who can help.
If you or someone you know is impacted by family and domestic violence or sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Readers seeking support with mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. More information is available at Beyondblue.org.au. Embrace Multicultural Mental Health supports people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.