Victims of domestic and family violence in the Hunter now have access to an innovative new mobile phone application.
The program, Empower You, is designed to discreetly document abuse and provide better access to support services.
The app also underwent rigorous testing, which included intensive consultation with experts in dealing with domestic and family violence victims, service providers, advocates and other key stakeholders, before its unveiling at the weekend.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the initial concept was the brainchild of an NSW Police officer in Western Sydney.
“When we established the Reform Project, a call was put out to all staff to submit their ideas in terms of improving the victim experience,” she explained.
“I couldn’t be prouder seeing this notion come to life.
“Sergeant Lisa Clemence’s experiences with victims, particularly the story of a local survivor, Hayley, inspired the idea of putting all the right information in one place, which is easily accessible at any time.
“She harnessed the coding and app developing skills of Sergeant Sam Morgan and together they created Empower You to include a private diary, a coded emergency signal feature, which can also send their GPS location, simple connectivity to Triple Zero for emergencies, and links local support services.
“Not only does it allow for victims to easily document abuse, which is often difficult to recall when in distress or when it occurs over long periods of time, we believe it has the potential to save lives.”
The prototype for the app was then further developed by technical experts from the NSW Police Force’s Technology Command to ensure the functionalities comply with legislation, which allows the data to be presented at court as evidence.
NSW Police Domestic and Family Violence Portfolio Owner Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith admitted Empower You was intended to do just that – embolden victims of abuse.
“The app is designed to be user-friendly, intuitive and interactive, while still having the best safety features for user privacy and discretion,” he said.
“It has inbuilt features to keep it private on any mobile, including passcodes and quick lock, and has a modest-looking icon that’s designed not to alert perpetrators.
“The diary feature allows a victim to collect their thoughts – including photos of injuries and property damage, and screenshots of emails or messages – and document an incident when it happens, no matter how minor or whether they report it to police at that time.
“This is especially important in terms of coercive control, where we know a victim often feels helpless, so with Empower You, the abuse is clearly demonstrated, and the power comes back to the victim.”
Domestic Violence NSW’s Dr Bridget Mottram congratulated NSW Police on the launch of the app.
“Empower You is an additional resource for victim-survivors who wish to report to police that may support and streamline the process,” she said.
“We look forward to our ongoing collaboration with police on a range of system reforms and improvements.”
The Empower You app is available in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, and NSW Police officers have QR codes on their MobiPOL devices to link to the app in the stores to download.
Victims of domestic and family violence can also seek advice and services by contacting 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visiting: https://www.1800respect.org.au.
Reports of domestic and family-related crime or abuse may be made by contacting or attending your local police station.
In an emergency or life-threatening situation, phone Triple Zero (000).
Anyone with information relating to domestic and family-related violence is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.
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