Media release: More at-risk women being kept safe during COVID-19

Media release: More at-risk women being kept safe during COVID-19

More women were being supported from harm in their homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a life-saving phone app linking them directly to police – and the Marshall Liberal Government has funded the valuable tool so it can continue.

From March to August last year, the number of women accessing the app rose by more than 260 per cent after criteria to access it was broadened to help keep more women safe.

The app’s main safety feature includes a “duress feature”, which links women directly with authorities if they are at immediate risk of harm. Each time the feature is activated, the alarm alerts a 24/7 monitoring centre to contact SAPOL for a quick emergency response.

Since the app was funded for the first-time by the Marshall Liberal Government, hundreds of South Australian women have accessed the app.

So far, the Marshall Liberal Government has so far invested $353,000 to ensure the app continues.

Latest available app data shows:

  • Since January 2020, 252 new referrals have been made to the app;
  • The youngest person to download the app is 16, and the oldest, aged 67. The average age of users is 36.6;
  • 158 women accessed the app during March to August 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when criteria for access to the app was broadened, compared with 43 women who accessed it from March to August 2019;
  • From October 2018 (when the app was launched) to 31 March 2021, the duress feature has been activated 84 times; and
  • A total of 351 women have been given access to the app by specialist DV services since launching.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said the app was helping keep at-risk South Australian women safe.

“Every woman deserves to feel safe in her own home or out in the community and this app is proving to be a powerful tool for personal protection,” said Minister Lensink.

“Women as young as 16 right through to their late sixties are using this potentially life-saving app and it’s just one of many measures helping South Australian women stay safe, supported and feel in control again.

“During the height of COVID-19 restrictions, more women were given access to this app as a discreet and effective way to get help to those most at risk – and that’s why the data reflects a surge in the number of South Australians who accessed the app during those months last year.

“Keeping at-risk South Australians safe and supported remains a Marshall Liberal Government priority – and our record $21 million investment in new domestic violence measures is testament to that.”

Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Carolyn Power urged women contact services if they feel unsafe.

“If women would like to access the app, they can contact the 24/7 Domestic Violence Crisis Line,” said Mrs Power.

“Qualified domestic violence counsellors work with women to assess their situation and determine if the app would be appropriate as part of their safety plan.

“The app could quite literally be a lifesaver for women who need to use the duress feature, which automatically triggers an emergency response.

“One woman who has access to the app told us it helps her feel safer and sleep easier at night knowing she can access help quickly should she need to.”

The name of the app has not been disclosed publicly in order to protect the privacy of those using it and to ensure perpetrators do not know about it.

To access the app, contact the 24/7 DV Crisis Line: 1800 800 098.