SRC Wom*ns Officers’ Report – Week 11, Sem 2, 2017

IMOGEN GRANT and KATIE THORBURN

Welcome to week 11! This semester is flying by, and I can’t believe this is one of my final reports as Wom*n’s Officer! As you may know, the R&DVSA is going through a difficult time after facing a new subcontract by MHS – a health insurance giant – in which a number of other non-for-profit organisations replace the R&DVSA workforce with non-specialised counsellors on much lower wages. The R&DVSA has also raised privacy concerns for callers about the new requirements to record all calls and share these, along with existing case files, with MHS. As a result of this, following the expiration of its current contract in October, 1800RESPECT will no longer be staffed by R&DVSA counsellors.

The Government’s plan is to turn a crisis line into a profit-making venture, sack skilled workers and hand out to the lowest bidder the provision of specialised counselling on 1800RESPECT. For the profits to flow, the union workforce need to be replaced by lower skilled non-union workers paid rock bottom wages. Current job advertisements are offering $20 or less an hour without proper clinical supervision for staff.

To make things worse, as a Government funded service, the R&DVSA have not been permitted to put aside money to cover redundancy payments for its staff. If the Government does not provide the $1 million needed for the redundancy entitlements, the R&DVSA will have no choice but to liquidate its assets and close its doors – and with it, vital services will be lost such as the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, Sexual Assault Counselling Australia, and the NSW Community Based Counselling Service. The Government is abdicating its responsibility to the highly committed and skilled workers who have been providing the 1800RESPECT trauma counselling service for the past seven years. What we are seeing is privatisation, competition, sacking workers and rock bottom prices just to make a profit out of rape and domestic violence. This government is sick.

If you wish to get involved with the Wom*n’s Collective and the fight to support R&DVSA, like us on Facebook and email usydwomenscollective@gmail.com for more details.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, support is available by contacting NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017.