Women’s Refuge innovation
by Ann van Engelen
Developments have been made to the Women’s Refuge New Zealand Shielded Site that has made it easier for women to get help during the isolation period.
“Women’s Refuge is an essential service and remains committed to providing services to women and children experiencing family violence,” says chief executive of Women’s Refuge, Dr Ang Jury.
“Women who are at risk are able to instantly chat with a family violence specialist who can offer assistance and advice while leaving no digital footprint. It is one of the tools that has proved to be beneficial during the lockdown period. The Shielded Site can be accessed by clicking on a discreet, green and white icon on the bottom of many major websites including The Warehouse, Countdown, NZ Post, Inland Revenue and Ministry of Social Development.
“One aspect of our work that is very important is evaluating existing avenues that women have to seek assistance. In the instance of Shielded Site, it was originally set-up as an email system. However, given the constraints of lockdown, we identified that it would be tremendously valuable to offer the web chat feature so there would be no delay in women receiving the advice and help they require.
“With the help of the National Telehealth Service and support of the Ministry of Social Development, the joint venture Shielded Site now has a web-chat function where requests for help will be responded to 24/7 in real-time.
“Women who access the tool will immediately be in touch, through online chat, with specialists in family violence who can offer immediate advice and assistance — while maintaining absolute confidentiality and leaving no digital footprint.
“If there is a way to reach more individuals who are experiencing family violence, we are committed to pursuing it, so that more families can lead violence-free lives.”