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WESNET Safe Phones Funding Extended

WESNET Safe Phones Funding Extended

The Federal Minister for Family and Social Services has announced that WESNET will receive $560,000 in funding to continue delivering its Safe Phones program until March 2021. 

The program provides free, safe mobile phone devices to women impacted by family violence, sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. This help clients without access to a phone that’s safe to use to remain connected with others, document their abuse and communicate with the services supporting them.  

WESNET also provides training to professionals on how to safely provide phones to victim survivors and support them to navigate various forms of technology-facilitated abuse.  

Communication During Coronavirus Pandemic

The continuation of the Safe Phones program is arguably more crucial now than ever given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which will result in victim survivors relying more heavily on technology to access support. 

This is especially so given many organisations are shifting their approaches to service delivery due to COVID-19, providing key services online and over the phone. 

According to National Director of WESNET, Karen Bentley, requests for Safe Phones have almost doubled in recent weeks.

“We are pleased to see that the Government has recognised that the Safe Phones program is crucial to assisting survivors in Australia’s pandemic response,” said Ms Bentley in light of the Government funding announcement. 

Since it’s establishment in 2015, the program has provided over 21,400 phones to women with an average of around 600 per month. 

“It’s a relief to be able to keep the program going,” said Julie Oberin, National Chair of WESNET. “But we will need to find ongoing funding for the program beyond this period, as the program is also crucial in non-pandemic times as well.” 

WESNET is still operating during the current public health crisis. If you have a client who you wish to refer to the Safe Phones program, or if you are personally experiencing technology-facilitated abuse and require support, call 1800 WESNET on 1800 937 638. 

For information and resources on how professionals and victim survivors can increase their technology privacy, security and safety visit www.techsafety.org.au/resources