Safe Connections: Smartphones for Survivors, Technology Safety Training for Shelter workers (安全連結:倖存者與智慧型手機及庇護所社工的科技安全訓練)

11/06/2019 - 13:45 to 11/06/2019 - 15:15
Proposal(Workshop / Presentation)
Coordinating organization: 
Emerging Issues
Organization Name: 
Organization Introduction: 
Established in 1992, the Women's Services Network (WESNET), is the Australian national umbrella organisation for women’s shelters and other women-led domestic and family violence organisations.
Proposer: WESNET
Describe your workshop/presentation (300-500 words): 
WESNET, the Australian national umbrella organisation for women’s shelters and other women-led domestic and family violence organisations, and Telstra, an Australian telecommunications provider, have been collaborating since 2014 to provide pre-paid smartphones with $30AUD credit to women impacted by domestic and family violence, through a national network of shelters and other frontline agencies. WESNET also provides training to the workers in the frontline agencies (shelters) to help increase knowledge and capacity to support women remaining safe online and connected. This session will provide an overview of the program and key findings from the 2018 evaluation which show the program is having a positive impact on survivors and the frontline workers supporting them. <!--break-->

Australians are staying socially connected and living part of their lives online. At the same time, a shift by government and other services to providing their services online means that Australians are more and more reliant on mobile technology as part of everyday life. But recent studies in the US and Australia have found that smartphones are also misused by abusers to harass, threaten, monitor and track survivors of domestic violence. Women arriving at shelters in Australia frequently arrive with no phone, a damaged phone or have concerns that their phone is being accessed by the perpetrator. Many survivors are unable to afford a new smartphone or are managing multiple other crises that prevent them from accessing a new device.

Lack of a smartphone whilst homeless can be a major barrier to basic forms of social and economic participation including accessing government benefits, emergency services, crisis and other support and a range of other services that are fundamental during a crisis or when re-establishing life post violence.

The provision of a new smartphone through the WESNET-Telstra Safe Connections program provides survivors with the means to connect with personal and professional sources of support. It also empowers survivors to disrupt abusive patterns of power and control through knowledge, information and support to use technology that support her safety.

WESNET also trains the workers in the network of frontline agencies, predominantly women’s shelters and other types of services that regularly come into contact with survivors of domestic and family violence. The training is designed to increase workers’ knowledge around technology so they can support women experiencing technology facilitated abuse. The training covers all the ways that smartphones can be misused by perpetrators, how to help women be safer on technology, document abuse that later may help them hold their abusers accountable, and how workers can safely provide the phones to women impacted by domestic and other forms of gender-based violence.

Together these two elements, the provision of the new smartphone and the training of the frontline support workers is having a positive impact on the lives of survivors and the professional practice of the support workers.
All Speakers:
Karen Bentley
Karen Bentley is the National Director of the Women’s Services Network (WESNET) and is a founder of the Safety Net Australia project, which she helped establish in Australia in 2011. Karen has been working with the violence against women sector for over 20 years both in frontline services, peak bodies and in government positions.
A tech enthusiast and strong anti-violence advocate, she is one of Australia’s leading experts on the intersection of technology and violence against women. Karen manages the WESNET-Telstra Safe Connections program, which has provided over 18,000 smartphones to women impacted by domestic and family violence. She has personally trained over 3600 frontline workers around technology facilitated abuse and provided the expert content for the highly successful eSafety Training for women. She has presented to the United Nations and international conferences on technology facilitated abuse. She advises, trains and participates in thinktanks for technology companies and universities in Australia and overseas.
In the early part of her career, Karen held senior positions in Australian Government including in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, where she managed the Partnership Against Domestic Violence program in the Office for the Status of Women. She has also managed her own consulting business and held senior management positions in non-government organisations including a high security women’s refuge in Victoria.