08 December 2023

The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP

Minister for Social Services

Member for Kingston


Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher

Minister for Finance

Minister for Women

Minister for the Public Service

Senator for the ACT


The Hon Justine Elliot MP

Assistant Minister for Social Services

Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence

Member for Richmond





Increased access to 1800RESPECT with new SMS service channel

From today, anyone experiencing family, domestic or sexual violence can receive specialist counselling and support services from 1800RESPECT via text message, ensuring those in unsafe situations who can’t access telephone or web chat can still get help.


The expansion has been soft-tested over the past fortnight and has already assisted victim-survivors to seek help where they would otherwise have not been able to do so.


In one case a user had lost their voice due to strangulation at a previous time and was unable to speak. Through SMS capability they were able to seek support for emergency accommodation via the 1800RESPECT service, where they would otherwise have not been able to access telephone support.


In another instance a user was able to text the behaviour of their partner to understand if it was coercive control and verbal abuse. Once their partner was no longer with them they were able to contact 1800RESPECT via phone for a safe in-depth verbal discussion on their next steps to safety.


The launch of SMS capability comes as the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence draws to a close this Sunday.


The Albanese Labor Government is committed to further improving 1800RESPECT to ensure it continues to meet the individual needs of users, with a new video service channel anticipated to be launched in early 2024.


The expansion follows an increase in demand for 1800RESPECT services, with more than 286,000 responses provided to phone and online requests in the 2020-21 financial year.


The new channel is expected to help meet the diverse needs of people living in rural and remote communities, and people who may have limited access to technology or internet, by offering more accessible ways to seek support.


Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth highlighted the importance of ease of access and choice for those experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – family, domestic, and sexual violence.


“The First Action Plan 2023-2027 under the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032, outlines the need to deliver quality services and increased support to victim-survivors,” Minister Rishworth said.


"This new SMS service channel will provide greater choice for people to seek support when they need it most, and empower users to reach out via a channel that best suits their circumstances.


“The option to text provides a more discreet and flexible way to contact the service for people who are unable to or are not safe to speak directly on the phone.”


Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said that this expansion was aimed at making it quicker and easier for victim-survivors to seek help.


“It’s important that support services keep pace with technology,” Minister Gallagher said.


“The expansion of 1800RESPECT to include a text service will make a difference to the lives of women seeking help.”


Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Justine Elliot emphasised the Albanese Government’s commitment to ensuring all people in Australia are able to access support.


“Our support services must reflect the diverse needs of victim-survivors of family, domestic, and sexual violence,” Assistant Minister Elliot said.


"We know that it can be difficult for people to talk about their experiences of violence, and for some people, this can be confronting to share over a phone call.


"The SMS service channel provides more options for users to contact the service in a way they feel most comfortable, and we hope this encourages more people to seek support."


If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, chat online via 1800RESPECT.org.au or text 0458 737 732


If you are concerned about your behaviour or use of violence, you can contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491 or visit www.ntv.org.au.


Feeling worried or no good? No shame, no judgement, safe place to yarn. Speak to a 13YARN Crisis Supporter, call 13 92 76. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.





Media contacts
Lanai Scarr (Rishworth) | 0499 530 673 | [email protected]

Lisa Glenday (Gallagher) | 0403 931 209 | [email protected]

Jill Molloy (Elliot) | 0499 971 925 | [email protected]