Innovative technology solutions to prevent domestic and family violence

May 2, 2022 by Sharon Berger
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The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce New South Wales (AICC) in partnership with Microsoft and Mission Australia,  are creating innovative technology solutions to prevent domestic and family violence (DFV) in Australia.

Brett Lightfoot presents

They have been joined by a broad coalition of government, university, industry, service providers and victim-survivor advocates.

61 commitments were recently made to move the Social Innovation Accelerator, a program bringing cross-sector entrepreneurial solutions to fruition, to the next stage.

A long-time supporter of the initiative, the Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello recognised the need to move beyond the current silo-based model. Instead advocating for human-centred delivery that “evolves and revolves around the individual and their needs.”

The inspiration behind the Social Innovation Accelerator came from the Israeli-based Michal Sela Forum (MSF), whose aim is to save lives and prevent domestic violence through innovation and technological solutions. AICC CEO Michelle Blum explained to the online and in-person attendees from 36 different organisations, “We want to create an eco-system that will amplify what already exists here to help prevent domestic violence.”

Lili Ben-Ami, CEO of MSF explained that by bringing together a cross-section of broad collaborators including engineers and entrepreneurs from Israel’s high performing tech sector, with intelligence and counterterrorism experts plus social welfare agencies and domestic violence survivors the forum has used “out-of-the-box thinking” to build solutions that identify digital warning signs for violence in relationships. Through multiple hackathons, their accelerator has already created a number of start-ups using digital data to prevent domestic violence. The MSF is planning to support the creation of 100 start-ups working to end domestic violence.

“Domestic family violence is a wicked problem facing our society” explained Brett Lightfoot, Industry Director – Public Sector at Microsoft Australia. He noted the tremendous, ongoing cost of DFV, with 32,000 assaults annually in New South Wales, translating to 87 a day, or 3.6 every hour. These numbers place an enormous strain on the systems in place, including 50% of all policing time. Adding that the lack of current synergies has translated to missed opportunities to save lives. Instead, he advocated for a “proactive, rather than a reactive process”.

There were over 219 challenges identified at the recent workshop, the third in the series that commenced in 2021, about the best ways to reduce DFV. The group selected 24 challenges to focus on, including:

  • Providing clear digital pathways to empower survivors to find the right services.
  • Allowing survivors to choose which personal information they want to securely share with selected providers.
  • Survivor-initiated data sharing provides better service and coordinated cross-sector response.
  • It reduces the need for survivors to have to ‘retell’ their often traumatic story.
  • Enabling automated cross-sector reporting to measure impact and provide data on identifying successful outcomes.
  • Designing digital services to include protection from technology-facilitated abuse.

Priority projects will kick off as innovation pods in early May. Contributions of cross-sector time, expertise and funding will help create these agile units to focus on progressing the work of the specific challenges identified by the workshop and bringing the Social Innovation Accelerator to life.

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