In the past two months (December 2016 and January 2017) calls to 1800RESPECT have increased by over 30 percent compared to the same time last year.
Since August last year, the number of calls answered by 1800RESPECT has increased by 410 percent and the average time callers have to wait to speak to a counsellor has decreased by 95 percent.
1800RESPECT General Manager Gabrielle Denning-Cotter said the implementation of a new model for the counselling service in August last year means 1800RESPECT is able to meet increasing demand and improve responsiveness.
'We know that the holiday period can be a sensitive time of year for many women experiencing sexual assault, domestic or family violence,' Ms Denning-Cotter said.
'Despite significant increases in demand, more women in need are having their calls answered in a timely manner. In December 2016 1800RESPECT answered more calls in that month alone, than were answered in the last 6 months of 2015. The average call waiting time has also reduced from over 10 minutes in 2015-16 to approximately 40 seconds.'
'As awareness and demand for the service continues to grow, the new operating model is critical in ensuring women and children get the support they need, when they need it. We know it is vital to be there for our callers when they need 1800RESPECT.'
The new First Response model was introduced following an independent review that examined ways to reduce call wait times and the number of calls going unanswered while maintaining the high quality of the service.
A new online chat service was also launched in October 2016. The early data on the new online chat model is also encouraging, indicating that it is a valued service particularly for young people seeking information about healthy relationships or counselling support.
The 1800RESPECT telephone and online chat service is staffed by qualified and experienced counsellors ensuring all callers receive a quality service, particularly those who are seeking support after experiencing sexual assault, domestic and family violence. This includes access to specialist trauma counselling. Callers including frontline workers, friends or family members now also have better access to information, advice or counselling to support someone at risk of or experiencing violence or abuse.