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Keep trauma counselling in the hands of experts!

EROC Australia calls on Universities Australia to leave trauma counselling in the hands of experts, not private companies

EROC Australia has called for the establishment of a national 1800 hotline for survivors of sexual assault in university communities. Students, survivors and advocates have been united in calling for this service to be provided by the nationally recognised best-practice organisation, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia. However, Universities Australia have decided that the hotline should be provided by a private company, Medibank Health Services (MHS). 

Here are four reasons why MHS should not be trusted with such a vital service:

1) Calls to MHS through the 1800 RESPECT service are recorded. This poses serious privacy and confidentiality concerns, and undermines trust in the counsellor-client relationship. It also allows these recordings to be subpoenaed in legal action - in contrast, Rape & Domestic Violence Services has a 100% success rate in fighting subpoenas and keeping calls confidential.

2) MHS counsellors are not provided with adequate supervision, support and management for possible vicarious trauma. Some MHS operators work from home, which creates risk for both callers and counsellors.

3) MHS is a for-profit company, which stands to benefit financially from processing a higher volume of calls in a shorter period of time, and indeed has a fiscal responsibility to its shareholders to secure profits. We maintain that sexual assault services should not be run by for-profit organisations, as they should be driven by the needs of survivors, not the financial interests of shareholders.

4) The triaging model, operated by MHS for 1800 RESPECT, led to a skyrocketing number of complaints about the hotline. Significant media attention was given to the decline in counselling quality as a result of the implementation of the triage model. 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

If you think that sexual assault counselling should remain in the hands of trauma-specialist experts, rather than private, for-profit companies, email the head of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson to let her know: ceo@universitiesaustralia.edu.au.

You can also email the Vice Chancellor at your university, letting them know that you support this initiative.