Telstra today joined the Federal Government and Women's Services Network (WESNET) to announce an expansion of the Safe Connections program, providing up to 20,000 safe smartphones over three years for women experiencing domestic violence.
Speaking at the National Family Violence Summit, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated Telstra on the expansion, part of the Federal Government's Safe Phones initiative in its Women’s Safety Package.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said Telstra was committed to helping women and children stay safely connected.
"I am a technology optimist and that is why I am so proud Telstra is part of the Safe Connections program," Mr Penn said.
"Safe Connections is about empowering women impacted by domestic violence and we know first-hand from our partnership with WESNET that this program makes a real difference.
"Technology, especially a mobile phone, is now a major part of everyday life.
"It is vitally important anyone in a domestic violence situation has access to safe, secure communications so they can stay connected with family and friends at a time when they need to most.
"It is also critical women are aware telephone, surveillance and computer technologies are increasingly being used to monitor and harass victims and what to do about it."
WESNET National Chair Julie Oberin said the smartphones provided by Telstra would be distributed by trained specialist domestic violence support workers who would help impacted women understand how to use them safely and to control their privacy and security settings.
"We want women to be able to embrace the technology that is available to help them and to understand how stalkers can misuse these new resources to harass, alarm, intimidate, coerce and monitor their partners," Ms Oberin said.
"We also want them to know how to use technology to collect evidence for police and courts against the perpetrator. This is really important. Simple screen shots of abusive messages with dates are important evidence."
In partnership with WESNET, Telstra’s original commitment of 5,000 smartphones over three years now increases to 20,000 and will also include $30 pre-paid starter kits and technology safety information.
Safe Connections is an initiative under Telstra’s 'Everyone Connected' program, which includes work with community organisations aimed at addressing the communications needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.
Telstra is also a proud supporter and accredited workplace of White Ribbon, a male-led campaign to end men's violence against women.
Although the onus should be on men to stop abusing, rather than women be responsible for their own safety, Telstra have also released the following tips:
More information and safety tips can be found on Telstra's website.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence: