The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:14): My question is to the Minister for Human Services about the government's commitment to addressing domestic and family violence. Can the minister please provide an update to the council on the use of South Australia's Domestic Violence Crisis Line since the service hours were extended in December last year?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:14): I thank the honourable member for her question and for her ongoing interest in this important area. As honourable members may recall, during the election campaign, the Liberal Party—the Marshall Liberal opposition and now government—made a range of commitments to address the terrible problem in our society of domestic and family violence.
We were very pleased that in the 2018-19 state budget, the Treasurer confirmed that $11.9 million dollars over four years would be provided for a suite of measures. These have been the subject of extensive consultation with the sector, both through a statewide round table and through a range of regional round tables. Some of these include the extension of safety hubs into regional South Australia, peak body funding for the coalition of women's domestic and Aboriginal family violence services for a personal protection app, improvement of data collection and communications, 40 new crisis accommodation beds, interest-free loans for the non-government sector and for a domestic violence disclosure scheme.
One of our commitments was to provide funding for the domestic violence crisis hotline to operate 24/7. That service has been in operation on a nine to five basis for some 30 years. The sector has been calling for that service to be made 24 hours. Clearly, people who are experiencing domestic and family violence need help at all hours of the day and night and so we were very pleased that that has been included in the budget through $1.6 million to Women's Safety Services. Once the funding was made available the service recruited people and provided specialist training, so it started operating in November last year.
The data is both alarming, but in some ways it goes to that we may be reaching more people, which is the positive side. If we look at the nine to five figures in terms of the number of calls per month, on average up until October/November last year the average was about 630 calls a month. It peaked in October/November to 708. Now that it is operating 24 hours a day, those numbers per month are 900.
I should say that the crisis line diverted to the generic homelessness service and to 1800RESPECT after hours in the past, and we don't have data to enable a direct comparison at this stage. But on my own calculations over a three-month period, the 24-hour service has been receiving about 900 phone calls a month, so it is a very significant increase. We are pleased that people who are in this situation are able to access specialised advice on that line and we trust that their lives will be improved as they are able to seek help when they need it.