SecurePay has formed a new partnership with safe steps Family Violence Response Centre as part of its GIVE charity program. This includes providing a new online payments solution for the recently rebranded safe steps’ new website.
The ability to accept online donations is vital for charities, particularly with uncertainty around government funding, believes the CEO of safe steps Family Violence Response Centre, Annette Gillespie.
The charity supports women and children experiencing family violence and runs a 24/7 telephone helpline and a statewide emergency response service that places women and children who are at risk in emergency accommodation.
SecurePay recently formed a strategic alliance with safe steps. This has seen SecurePay provide the charity with an online payments solution and become safe steps’ first online donor using the new payments solution, with a $500 online contribution. In addition, the payments provider hosted Gillespie as a speaker at one of its regular GIVE charity program sessions, which aims to raise gratitude and awareness among SecurePay staff.
How safe steps works with family violence
Speaking at the lunchtime session at SecurePay’s head office in Melbourne, Gillespie explained to staff that the charity’s 24/7 telephone response line is central to its work. This line receives, on average, 135 calls a day and safe steps provides over-the-phone risk assessments for women to determine what level of risk they and their children are facing. Sixty per cent of women assessed each day need to go into emergency accommodation or require immediate assistance to leave an abusive relationship. Over 44 per cent of those accommodated are children who need to leave their homes with their mothers.
In addition to helping women and children leave violent situations and providing emergency accommodation, safe steps provides safety maintenance training and information to help these women stay safe and start their lives afresh. It advocates on their behalf on issues such as their immigration and housing status, as well as their financial situation. This type of support is vital, as a woman is more likely to be injured or killed in the two weeks after leaving the relationship, said Gillespie. safe steps also has its own safe house where women can stay for longer and receive more support with court intervention orders or housing applications and entitlements.
Growth in family violence in Australia
There is growing demand for safe steps’ services and those of similar organisations.
More than a third of women in Australia will experience intimate-partner violence and one in three women will experience a sexual or physical assault, Gillespie said. In fact, a World Health Organization (WHO) report described family violence as the greatest epidemic of our time. Family violence is the leading factor (44 per cent) of homelessness in Victoria, and the economic cost of family violence in Australia is $13.6 billion per year.
While women are reporting family violence more than ever before, Gillespie said the severity of the violence is also on the rise. In addition, Gillespie was keen to stress that family violence is not limited to any socio-economic or cultural group – it affects women and children across the board.
Despite growing demand for services that help with family violence, government funding is no longer guaranteed for organisations such as safe steps.
“There is enormous pressure on funding with the changing community service landscape. The social services sector has been reformed and there is a lot of uncertainty about services and funding,” said Gillespie.
“We need more funding and support from the government due to growing demand for our services. We are the gateway into the system – we simply cannot turn off the tap,” she said. Growing its online donations is just one way that safe steps is expanding its funding base.
What can individuals do?
With family violence taking place behind closed doors, many people feel they aren’t in a position to help women who are affected.
However, Gillespie said that individuals should pay attention to neighbours, friends and colleagues, and that people shouldn’t feel afraid to reach out to them. “If you do hear something, call the police. Don’t just ignore it – feel responsible and be part of the solution – it is everyone’s business,” she said.
“If someone discloses to you that violence is happening, listen without judgement and don’t feel discouraged if they don’t take up your advice the first time. It is important to believe the woman and not judge her.”
Gillespie added that organisations and services on the ground always need volunteer help and supplies, as most women and children leave their homes without any of their belongings, clothing or toiletries. “No donation is too small,” she said.
safe steps also provides information packs for HR departments, and corporates can request training from the organisation. “Many corporates are unaware of how family violence impacts their business,” said Gillespie.
While safe steps is active in many areas, Gillespie said every partnership, including the one with SecurePay, is highly valuable to her and her entire staff. “It can be isolating work, which is done at a confidential level. We are very interested in partnerships within the community to raise awareness or support,” she said.