committee recommends that the Government ensure that 1800 RESPECT first
response triage counsellors and trauma counsellors have adequate qualifications
and experience and an appropriate work environment. Specifically that:
- The 1800 RESPECT first response triage
service is staffed only by counsellors with a minimum three year tertiary
degree in counselling or equivalent and a demonstrated minimum three years'
experience in specialised counselling in family domestic violence and sexual
assault counselling and working with clients from diverse backgrounds and
- The committee recommends that the
government review the working arrangements for first response counsellors
employed by Medibank Health Solutions, and intervene to ensure that:
- first responders receive
appropriate initial and ongoing training;
- appropriate clinical
supervision is provided;
- the practice of working
from home cease; and
policies and procedures aimed at protecting clients, and also
those aimed at protecting responders from vicarious trauma, are implemented.
- More broadly, the committee recommends
that the government consider whether having a principal contractor, rather than
the specialist services themselves, providing first responder services
represents value for money and best-practice.
respect of the trauma specialist counsellors, the committee recommends:
- that sufficient funding be made
available for the telephone counselling function of the 1800 RESPECT to ensure
that there are sufficient specialist trauma counsellors to meet current and
future demand for counselling, having regard to both quantitative and
qualitative performance measures.
committee notes that many of the procurement and accountability issues revealed
in this inquiry are the remit of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)
and strongly recommends that the government management of the program and its
procedures is reviewed by the ANAO.
committee recommends that the Department of Social Services develop an
evaluation schedule for the 1800 RESPECT program and release a high level
evaluation plan that includes the quantitative and qualitative performance
measures the contractors and sub-contractors will be measured against.
committee recommends the Department of Social Services brief its staff and
contractors on their legal and contractual requirements in program management
and Senate Standing Orders.
committee further recommends that the government consider whether the principal
contractor model, as currently arranged, represents value for money and
best-practice. Specifically, the committee recommends that the government consider
whether the value of the contract management services provided by Medibank
Health Solutions (MHS) justifies the public funding provided to MHS for that
purpose, or whether that is a function that would be better provided by
government, with MHS retaining responsibility for the technological (telephony
and online) aspects of the program.
committee recommends that the Department of Social Services require Medibank
Health Solutions to develop 1800 RESPECT specific privacy information that
clearly explains how personal information will be recorded and maintained. The
privacy information will detail what the individual's options are, including
opting out of recordings and remaining anonymous.
committee recommends that the Department of Social Services (DSS) require
Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) to develop a clear statement for the 1800
Respect website detailing:
- how MHS manages
information, voice records and files; and
- relevant information on the extent and
limitations of privacy and confidentiality in a manner that they potential
callers can fully understand.
- that the DSS develop a clear, written
protocol on handling of subpoenas and applying for privilege for MHS and
subcontractors by March 2018.
- that staff are
informed of these protocols and their requirements.
- that this protocol is
made available on the 1800 RESPECT website.
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