The Senate just took another big step towards saving the 1800RESPECT hotline.

Six crossbenchers have banded together to put pressure on the Government to ensure sexual assault and domestic violence survivors continue to have access to quality services.

A motion, which passed in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon, asked for funding to be given directly to Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (RDVSA) to run the 1800RESPECT hotline, rather than the service being put out to tender.

“Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, deserve specialist services not a money-making enterprise,” Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who co-sponsored the motion with Senator Jacqui Lambie, Senator Derryn Hinch, Senator Kakoschke-Moore and Senator Claire Moore, said.

“Of course, the quality of the services will suffer if the provider has one eye on profit margins.”

The 1800RESPECT hotline is a national counselling service for women and men affected by family and sexual violence.

Since its creation in 2010, the service has always been contracted to Medibank Health Solutions (MHS) but calls to the line were answered by a team of highly specialised counsellors from the RDVSA.

Source: iStock

In recent years, the number of calls and emails to the service have almost tripled, leading to a blowout in wait times and unanswered calls, which the Government responded to by introducing a spate of efficiency measures in 2016.

One of these is having a triage service field calls to determine which ones needed to be forwarded to RDVSA staff. While this has significantly cut wait times, many argue it's left some in desperate situations without adequate assistance.

In February, the MHS announced the contract for 1800RESPECT would be put up for tender, which some labeled akin to selling off to the highest bidder or "profiteering" from sexual and domestic violence.

In response, the Australian Services Union launched the No Profit From Rape campaign pushing for sufficient, sustainable funding so RDVSA can employ more specialist staff and purchase equipment to answer all calls to its service itself.

1800RESPECT provides telephone and on-line counselling by specialist sexual assault and domestic violence counsellors,...

Posted by Linda Burney on Monday, 6 March 2017

"This is the Senate telling the Government it should back RDVSA, an internationally renowned, women-led organisation with 50 years experience," Senator Waters told Mamamia.

"It’s a step forward in the campaign to keep up the pressure not to award the 1800RESPECT tender to another service provider, possibly one run for a profit.

"Domestic violence and sexual assault survivors deserve the best help available."

You can read more about how the tender of 1800RESPECT could affect sexual assault and domestic violence survivors here.