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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Domestic violence app to target bystanders

The Queensland Government has teamed up with software developers and Telstra to build a new smartphone app to help prevent domestic and family violence – with the groundbreaking app to have valuable input from the family and friends of murdered Brisbane mum, Hannah Clarke and her three children (pictured).

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Di Farmer said the ‘Bystander’ app would show users how to spot the signs of an unhealthy relationship of a loved one and give advice on how to intervene in a safe, proactive way.

“With one sixth of women and one sixteenth of men over the age of 15 experiencing domestic and family violence the chances are we all know somebody living with violence,” Ms Farmer said.

“Government can’t go it alone on domestic and family violence, we all have a responsibility as bystanders to help.  

“Many people experiencing violence often don’t know where to turn, so we’re putting technology to work to make identifying and reporting domestic violence as a bystander much easier.

“The majority of domestic violence bystanders want to help out but often don’t know how to get started.

“That’s why it’s fantastic to have Telstra and the Mate Bystander program on board to build an app to better inform bystanders on domestic violence.    

Minister Farmer said input for the app had also come from the family and friends of domestic violence victim, Hannah Clarke, who lost her life at the hands of her ex-partner in horrific circumstances in February.

“Hannah’s death and the tragic loss of her three beautiful children broke the hearts of Queenslanders and many around the world,” Ms Farmer said.

“By uniting with the Bystander app we’re helping others to recover from COVID-19 and the problems the pandemic has brought for people living at home with violence.”

Ms Farmer said every Australian had a role to play in ending domestic and family violence.

“If you see it, hear it, or suspect it, report it,” she said.

“And, that’s how the Bystander App is designed to help.

The app’s concept was developed by the MATE Bystander program.

Shaan Ross-Smith, from MATE Bystander, said the app will be the first of its kind to empower bystanders to domestic and family violence to act.

“We all know of somebody who has been affected in some way by domestic violence and we all want to know what we can do to help,” she said.

“The app will empower bystanders with the information they need to make informed decisions and intervene in safe and respectful ways.”  

General Manager of Queensland Government business, Gaven Nicholls said Telstra was proud to provide the technology and digital expertise for such an important cause.

“Telstra is committed to making a positive difference in the community for those affected by domestic and family violence,” Mr Nicholls said.

Ms Farmer said COVID-19 had created a “perfect storm” for many people under a dark cloud of domestic and family violence in their own home.

She said perpetrators have been able to manipulate social distancing requirements to further control family members.

In some homes, abuse of drugs and alcohol, job losses and money problems during the pandemic saw violence emerge as a never before seen family dynamic, the Minister said.

“The Palaszczuk Government delivered $7.5 million in top up payments to 305 services.”

“It gave service providers the resources to unite and help families recover from COVID-19 violence at home.

“The Bystander app is also part of our COVID-19 recovery response.

“By itself the Bystander app won’t stop domestic and family violence – it needs you to look for the signs of violence, provide discreet support and report it.

“Only then can people affected by domestic violence begin to recover.” 

Ms Farmer said development of the app would start this month.

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