Launch of the 1800RESPECT Sunny mobile app for women with disability

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Good morning everyone.

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners, the Ngunnawal people, and pay my respects to their elders — past and present.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the launch of the Sunny app.

This new app is an innovative and important tool, tailored specifically to assist women with disabilities to recognise violence and abuse, understand their rights, and take action to ensure their safety.

This is an important development to help prevent violence against women with disability.

We know from the 2016 Personal Safety Survey that almost half of all women who experienced violence by a partner in the last 12 months had some form of disability or a long-term health condition. That’s more than 70,000 women.

Violence against women, regardless of the form it takes, is totally unacceptable.

I recently attended the COAG National Summit to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

As I listened to the many experts in the consultation sessions, one of the key messages to emerge was that every victim of violence has a unique story.

That’s why it is so important we hear the range of voices of women experiencing various forms of violence, and use their stories to guide our responses.

The great thing about the Sunny app is that it has been developed by actually listening to the voices of women with disability.

This app was developed for women with disability by women with disability.

The Sunny app is a ground-breaking project as part of 1800RESPECT, Australia’s national online and telephone counselling and support service for people affected by domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

1800RESPECT has been a key partner of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and has been delivering its essential service, since 2010.

The service runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last financial year, 1800RESPECT answered 98,466 telephone calls and online contacts, representing a growth of 54 per cent from the previous year. It is predicted the service will answer more than 160,000 contacts this year.

What this shows is a continued rise of trust in and awareness of this service by people affected by violence; we want to make sure their needs for support continue to be met.

With this in mind, I am proud to announce that 1800RESPECT will receive $10.9 million in additional funding from the Federal Coalition Government to meet ongoing demand.

This will help ensure people can access support when they need it by increasing the number of qualified, experienced counsellors.

It means 33 more full time trauma specialist counsellors will be available to people who need this specialist support.

The Government’s focus is now on the fourth and final action plan to reduce violence against women and their children, and we’ve come a long way.

Under the First Action Plan, we put in place critical infrastructure, built our evidence base and established the foundations of the National Plan, including 1800RESPECT.

The Second Action Plan saw the launch of the Stop it at the Start campaign to reduce violence against women, the second phase of which was launched at the COAG summit in Adelaide in October.

The Third Action Plan improved data collection and analysis, providing more accurate and deeper evidence, including trials of new and innovative approaches.

For the development of the Fourth Action Plan, we are working with state and territory colleagues and consultation groups around the country to ensure our approach reflects the diversity of Australian people.

The plan needs to be responsive to the needs of women with disability and to people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

It is our goal that every Australian woman should feel safe, all of the time.