The Contact Service fields well over 100,000 calls each year. In 2019/2020, calls increased sharply, partly as a result of the Christchurch terror attacks.
The Contact Service averages around 2,500 calls per week. At the time of the Christchurch terror attacks calls increased to almost double at their peak, and then averaged to 3,400 per week.
“What’s even more important than the volume of calls or the number of call lines we handle, is the type of calls we deal with. We don’t just run a call center here, we work with people’s real lives, a safe place for them to call 24/7 during their time of need”, says Sam Isa’ako, Contact Service Manager
First steps of support
The Contact Service, in responding to victims or referral calls, performs the first analysis of the person’s circumstances. Passing this to the Support Worker as a ‘snapshot’, they provide what is needed to start working with a victim. Done correctly, Support Workers have more information and more accurate information to work with and begin to build trust with the victim, possibly their family too.
Through this process, undertaken with a calm and methodical approach, Contact Service Operators ensure that the victim has a positive and seamless experience through to the frontline Support Worker.
Setting the tone
Victims who receive quality support and assistance are more likely to remain connected in a positive way with their whānau, family and local community through their journey. Our Contact Service staff are trained and equipped to help victims make the right start on their journey to safety, recovery, and justice – as well as making support services and the wider justice system more accessible.
Contact Service staff are responsible for assessing each referral and ensuring clients can access the most suitable options for them. That could be support from a Support Worker, or connection directly to hundreds of other government and non-government agencies nationwide.
Calls can be complex and varied. They range from assisting with the management of victim referrals, communicating with frontline Police and communications dispatch, identifying and directing our Support Workers to any location, and assisting with self-referrals. They also manage all Support Workers’ safety and security protocols for visits to victims.
Better for victims
Having this capacity and expertise in the Contact Service allows Victim Support to look at new and innovative ways of providing better services to victims. In August 2018, Victim Support began a pilot service, working with Women’s Refuge to develop an after-hours call service.
From 5pm to 7am during weekdays and any time during weekends, Contact Service staff take calls from participating community refuges via a dedicated inbound line. This is vital for the safety of victims of family violence with incidents mainly happening after hours.
Throughout the night, staff immediately assess callers’ needs, provide advice, make emergency safe house referrals to a women’s refuge or arrange other emergency after-hours support from Victim Support.
Together, Women’s Refuge and Victim Support are providing better options for families of family violence – a safe place for victims of family violence, 24/7 whenever needed.