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Helplines and related support services

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Help is available. If you or someone close to you is in immediate danger, please call 000. For information, support and counselling, see Find support.

The term ‘helplines’ is used broadly in this topic page to refer to services that include a telephone helpline as part of their range of supports.

For people experiencing family, domestic and sexual violence, helplines can provide an important source of advice, information and support.

The 2021–22 Personal Safety Survey estimated that 63% of women who experienced violence from a previous partner had sought advice or support (around 962,000). Of these women, around 10% had contacted a telephone helpline (around 100,000) (ABS 2023). See also How do people respond to FDSV?.

In the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, helpline data, which can be more timely than other service data, was used to consider the impact of COVID-19 on violence and mental health; see also FDSV and COVID-19 and Mental health services activity monitoring quarterly data.

This topic page provides an overview of available data on national helpline activity in Australia.

What are helplines?

Helpline providers offer a range of support services, across a range of contact methods

Helplines are an important entry point into the family, domestic and sexual violence service system for those in need of assistance. They provide a range of services and supports, including information, referral, counselling and advocacy.

Why are helplines important for those who have experienced violence?

'Helplines are vital for victims of violence. Helplines are often the first point of contact and sometimes the only contact, especially for those victims who are being kept isolated, or who live in remote locations.'

Lily

WEAVERs Expert by Experience

Some helplines are specifically designed to respond to family, domestic and sexual violence – for example, those connected to rape crisis centres, or specialist family violence services. Others may provide more general support in areas such as family relationships, mental health, or legal assistance, but will often respond to family, domestic and sexual violence as part of this work. Redress support for adult survivors of child sexual abuse is a growing area of service provision (Box 1).

A variety of people may use helplines, including victim-survivors, friends, family, perpetrators of violence, and other service providers. People may contact helplines about current or previous experiences of violence, as well as concerns about risk of violence.

Helplines are traditionally contacted via telephone, but technology-assisted methods of contact have become more widespread (Box 2).

What do we know?

There are many helplines in Australia which respond to family, domestic and sexual violence. They vary in the type of supports provided, their target populations, the available methods of contact, and the degree to which they are available nationally and at the state/territory level. Table 1 provides some examples of national helpline services.

Table 1: Examples of national helpline services, including overview of target population and methods of contact
ServiceOverview of target populationTelephoneWeb chatEmailVideo conferenceIn personOther online(a)

1800RESPECT

People affected by family, domestic or sexual violence

 

 

 

Blue Knot Foundation

People affected by complex trauma due to violence

 

 

Kids Helpline

Children and young people aged 5–25

 

 

Bravehearts

People affected by child sexual abuse

 

 

 

Men’s Referral Service

Men who use or have used violence

 

 

 

 

Full Stop Australia

People affected by family, domestic or sexual violence

 

 

knowmore

Survivors of child sexual abuse

 

 

 

 

 

1800 ELDERHelp

People affected by elder abuse

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Includes mobile phone app, or social networking platform.

Note: See Find support for contact details.

There is currently no national data collection, so data need to be sourced from individual helplines. This topic page includes data for a modest number of national providers – while this offers some insights, it is acknowledged that the available data are fragmented and only provide a partial picture of the level of activity of helplines and related support services in Australia.

What do the data tell us?

1800RESPECT

1800RESPECT is Australia’s national telephone and online counselling and support service for people affected or at risk of family, domestic and sexual violence, their family and friends and frontline workers. In addition, the Daisy app can be used to connect people experiencing violence to services in their local area.

Of the almost 269,000 contacts answered by 1800RESPECT in 2022–23:

  • The majority of contacts were by telephone (over 226,000), and the rest were web chats (almost 42,500).
  • Most people identified as female (almost 131,000) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: 1800RESPECT answered contacts by gender and type of contact, 2019–20 to 2022–23

Figure 1 is a bar graph that shows the number of contacts per year (telephone and web chats) answered by 1800RESPECT by gender and contact type.

Blue Knot Foundation

  • In 2021–22, the Blue Knot Helpline provided more than 25,000 occasions of service to callers, via phone, email and webchat

    Source: Blue Knot Foundation

The Blue Knot Foundation provides support for people affected by complex trauma due to violence.

The Helpline and the Redress Support Service provide counselling, information, support and referrals for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. In 2021–22, more than 25,000 occasions of service were provided to helpline callers, via phone, email and webchat. Over 5,500 occasions of service were provided to people enquiring about the National Redress Scheme, or being supported through the redress process (Blue Knot Foundation 2022).

The National Counselling and Referral Service provides counselling, information, support and referrals to services for people living with disability and experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. In 2021–22, the service provided over 9,000 occasions of service to helpline callers, via the phone, email, webchat and videoconference. In addition, 760 counselling sessions were provided over the phone to inmates in correctional centres (Blue Knot Foundation 2022).

Kids Helpline

Kids Helpline is a free national helpline that provides support for children and young people aged 5 to 25. It offers counselling via phone, email, and web chat. In addition, counsellor moderated peer-to-peer support has been introduced via the social networking platform My Circle.

Children and young people contact Kids Helpline about diverse issues, including mental health, suicide, relationships (with family, peers and partners), child abuse and family violence, and bullying.

During counselling contacts in 2022, almost 5,800 child abuse and family violence concerns were discussed, and around 12,200 concerns about family relationship issues. The number of family violence and relationship concerns discussed during counselling contacts increased in the initial years of the COVID pandemic (2020 and 2021), then declined in 2022 (Figure 2). See also FDSV and COVID-19.

Emergency care actions are where Kids Helpline counsellors contact police, child safety or ambulances when a child or young person is deemed to be at imminent risk. In 2022, there were over 1,500 emergency care actions for child abuse (representing 31% of all emergency care actions).

Figure 2: Number of family violence and relationship concerns discussed during Kids Helpline counselling contacts, 2012 to 2022

Source: Kids Helpline (unpublished data) | Data source overview

Bravehearts

Bravehearts provides support for people affected by child sexual abuse.

The Information & Support Line (‘the Line’) provides advice and assistance, including what to do if someone has disclosed child sexual abuse. In 2021–22, over 4,500 enquiries were made to the Line, including via phone, email, website and other channels such as walk-ins. The Line lodged over 20 notifications to police and child safety authorities due to concerns a child was at risk of harm or that harm had already occurred (Bravehearts 2022).

Bravehearts’ therapeutic services delivered over 2,800 counselling sessions in 2021–22 to children and families affected by child sexual assault and exploitation. The Turning Corners program, an early intervention initiative for young people aged 12–17 who are engaging in harmful sexual behaviours, delivered around 450 counselling sessions (Bravehearts 2022).

As a National Redress Scheme service provider, in 2021–22 Bravehearts helped over 700 clients, including redress assistance, support and advocacy (Bravehearts 2022).

Men’s Referral Service

  • Men’s Referral Service received over 7,600 helpline calls in 2021–22

    Source: No To Violence annual report

The Men’s Referral Service provides support for men who have used or continue to use violence and who are seeking support to change their abusive behaviours.

In 2021–22, the Men’s Referral Service responded to over 7,600 helpline calls nationally. Referrals are received from police in selected states and territories – almost 60,000 referrals were received from police in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania in 2021–22 (No To Violence 2022).

Further details are provided in Specialist perpetrator interventions.

Full Stop Australia

Full Stop Australia (formerly Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia) supports people affected by sexual, domestic and family violence. From November 2021, 1800 FULL STOP is a national, free call number which directs callers to a suitable helpline operated by Full Stop Australia, including the National Violence and Abuse Trauma Counselling and Recovery Service, the National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service, the Rainbow Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Helpline, and the NSW Sexual Violence Helpline.

In 2021–22, almost 22,500 calls were made to 1800 FULL STOP. More than 15,800 occasions of trauma counselling and recovery services were provided to almost 4,000 individual clients, via phone, online and face-to-face (Full Stop Australia 2022).

The Domestic Violence Cash Transfer Project supported nearly 500 victim-survivors with monetary assistance to escape violence. This included distribution of funding to family and domestic violence services to enable them to provide their clients with emergency relief, and victim-survivors also had access to a lump sum cash payment (Full Stop Australia 2022).

knowmore

knowmore assists survivors of child sexual abuse by providing free legal advice and support regarding justice and redress options (including the National Redress Scheme).

Over the 4-year period 2018–19 to 2021–22, almost 68,900 calls were made to the telephone helpline, and around 11,900 people became clients. Among clients, 59% identified as male, 34% identified as First Nations people, and 19% had been allocated priority due to advanced age or immediate and serious health concerns (for example, diagnosis of terminal cancer) (knowmore 2022b).

1800 ELDERHelp

1800 ELDERHelp assists victim-survivors of elder abuse or other people who are concerned about an older person. It is a national, free call number which directs callers to a state and territory telephone helpline for elder abuse.

See Older people for available state/territory data.

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