According to statistics, the number of reported cases of family violence in Australia has been steadily rising over the past decade, raising concerns within the community. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported an estimated 8 million Australians (41%) have experienced violence (physical and/or sexual) since the age of 15 .
Factors contributing to this rise include societal changes, economic pressures, mental health issues, and other complex dynamics within families. The growing societal awareness and willingness of victims to come forward indicates a cultural shift to recognise and report family violence in Australia.
Enter App Empower You: A free smart-phone app empowering victims to gain legal protection. Recently launched by the New South Wales (NSW) Police, Empower You provides legal support, connection with services and resources for victims of family violence, direct to their mobile phone device.
Currently available in 11 languages, in leveraging technology to provide accessible support to victims, Empower You offers an array of resources designed to aid individuals involved in potentially dangerous domestic situations, including:
- Reporting incidents: Empower You enables users to discreetly report family violence incidents directly to the police, via the app. A simple tap initiates the reporting process, ensuring prompt support and capturing crucial evidence while maintaining the victim's safety.
- Access to legal information: A comprehensive information hub with FAQ’s, the app offers educational resources covering legal rights, how to obtain protection orders, and other legal processes surrounding family violence. By equipping victims with knowledge, Empower You assist users to make informed decisions and take appropriate action.
- Emergency alerts and safety planning: Empower features an emergency alert function that swiftly connects users to emergency services in case of immediate danger. Additionally, the tool assists in creating personalised safety plans, allowing individuals to identify potential risks and take precautions to ensure their wellbeing.
- Secure evidence collection: By nature, family violence often occurs in private, making it difficult to prove after it has occurred. Empower You offers a diary option and guidance on capturing and securely storing evidence, such as photos, videos, and audio recordings, which can be crucial in legal proceedings.
Connecting with legal professionals: Empower You allows users to connect with legal professionals, including lawyers and support services, who specialise in family violence cases via secure SMS message feature. This feature ensures victims have immediate access to expert advice and guidance throughout their legal journey.
Empower You is not monitored by NSW Police and does not replace the assistance of police aid in emergency situations. Victims or those fearing for their safety remain encouraged to call 000 if their safety is at risk. Data entered into the application is exclusively stored on the mobile phone device and is only transmitted when the user elects ‘sharing’ options through the app itself.
Once the app is deleted, the information stored on the app is not recoverable.
As the prevalence of family violence reaches troubling heights in Canberra too, the introduction of apps such as Empower You supported by the NSW Police offers a glimmer of hope to victims who seek legal protection.
While the Empower You App represents a significant step forward in combating family violence, it is crucial that the government, Family Law professionals, community organisations, and individuals work in tandem to create a safe and supportive environment for victims.
Our specialised team at Parker Coles Curtis are experienced in working with families experiencing family violence, and guiding them through the legal issues that can arise in situations of domestic and family violence. Every lawyer in our firm is trained in ‘Trauma- Informed Practice meaning they intimately understand the complex dynamics within these relationships. We work closely with you, and other support services, to ensure your safety and help you exit a violent relationship. We’ll then help you to navigate the legal decisions that follow a relationship breakdown, and help you to regain control of your life.