The Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, encourages all South Africans, especially women and children, to make use of the department’s gender-based violence (GBV) command centre (GBVCC) as the country begins to observe the 16 Days of no Violence against Women and Children.
The centre was established by the department to deal with the scourge of violence, especially against women and children.
It is a 24-hour call centre that is available to assist survivors of gender-based violence for support and guidance by trained social workers.
It offers a comprehensive, integrated system that provides immediate, consistent, co-ordinated and timely support to survivors of GBV. Its services are linked to the police, emergency management services and department of health.
The centre uses mobile technology to estimate the location of a caller, assign the closest social worker in the field to the case, and record and receive continuous feedback on the case. It employs trained social workers who provide immediate counselling to callers and help them to avoid or minimise further exposure to GBV.
The GBV Command Centre utilises the following high-level components:
• Inbound and outbound call management.
• GPS location of the caller or victim of gender-based violence
• Mobile application to assist social workers intervene and update on the condition of the victim of GBV
• A please call me facility to enable those without airtime to receive call back from the command centre
• SMS-based incident referral through a dedicated SMS line functionality, and
• Skype-based call functionality to enable people with disabilities, in particular those that are deaf, to also report incidents of GBV making use of sign language.
A survivor calls the centre from a mobile phone, the caller (with explicit permission), is geographically located, enabling the GBV command centre to determine the caller’s closest resources (social worker, police station, hospital, safe house).
It records the particulars of the caller and assigns the closest field social worker to the case via a specially developed mobile-device application. The information captured by the GBV command centre is displayed and the social worker subsequently uses the same application to provide feedback to the centre.
This innovative model of social-service delivery offers enormous advantages:
• Broadening the base of service delivery to the remotest and most underdeveloped regions of the country.
• Immediate telephonic counselling.
• Expediting assistance to victims.
• Reducing paperwork: the information captured by all the parties displays directly on the mobile applications and the GBV Command Centre software.
• Availing real-time functionality to the Department of Social Development, including strategic reporting on trends in specific locations or types of violence, and the demand for social workers in a specific location.
Since its inception, the centre has received four awards in recognition of the excellence of the service it delivers.
1) In recognition of it being the first integrated technology of its kind in terms of social service delivery in South Africa and arguably in the developing world, the GBV Command Centre was awarded the 2014 CCMG Best Technology Innovation award.
2) The GBV Command Centre was also awarded the Changing Lives award at the 2014 AfricaCom Awards for providing telephonic support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence.
3) The GBV Command Centre was also awarded an international award at the World Contact Centre Awards in London in 2015. It was awarded the Best Technology-Internal Solution Award for the Europe, Middle-East and Africa region (EMEA). It received gold at the awards, signifying that it is number one within the EMEA region.
4) It was awarded the number one technology solution: Small Contact Centre award at the Global Contact Centre Award in Las Vegas in November 2015.
“The centre operates 24 hours and it provides a single point of entry for survivors of gender-based violence to request emergency help, seek advice and receive counselling and access other Department of Social Services programmes,” says Dlamini.
The GBV command centre toll-free number is 0800 428 428.
Alternatively, USSD (Please Call Me) *120* 7867# SMS “help” to 31531.