Mobilising Change: How One Person Can Start a Movement

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Not-for-profit organisation DV Safe Phone was established 2 years ago during the pandemic and is now hitting major milestones to help people affected by domestic or family violence across Australia.

In early 2020, Ashton Wood was doing a spring clean, and was struggling to donate used items to charity shops which had all closed due to COVID lockdowns. Ashton reached out to a police officer friend to see whether they knew of any charity options he could access with used goods. During the conversation, he learnt that what they really needed were mobile phones to give to domestic violence victims who were trying to escape dangerous situations.

“I learned the mobile phone is often one of the first items to be thrown, broken, or stolen during domestic violence, leaving the victim cut off from the outside world, with no way to call emergency services or helplines for assistance and I knew something needed to be done,” Mr Wood said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on communities around the world, including in Australia. We have seen changes and disruptions to how organisations operate, the economy, the education system, social interaction and connection, and the health system which has been challenged like never before. These have all led to increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, with many Australians struggling to cope with the uncertainty and changes, brought about by the pandemic and lockdowns across the country.

Sadly, there has been a significant increase in reported cases of domestic and family violence during this pandemic. The external uncertainty, confinement, and stress of lockdowns, as well as financial strains, have contributed to a rise in tensions within households and a corresponding increase in violent incidents has been reported to authorities. Lockdowns and social distancing measures have resulted in victims trapped at home with their abusers, often with no access to family, friends, or support structures. At the same time, the pandemic has made it more difficult for victims to reach out for help, as support services have become harder to access.

Ashton launched a campaign called DV Safe Phone, to get unused mobile phones out of people’s ‘bottom drawers’ and into the hands of victims of domestic and family violence.

The campaign is aimed at collecting working phones, testing the phones for functionality, ensuring that all user data has been erased and redistributing working mobile phones to victims of domestic violence, through registered domestic violence and law enforcement agencies, safe houses, crisis centres and volunteers Australia-wide.

Founder and CEO Ashton Wood said the Safe Phones are provided as part of an individual’s ‘safe’ or ‘escape’ plan’ offering a lifeline to call for help when it is needed most.

“A mobile phone is something that many of us take for granted, but it can be a potential lifesaver for victims of domestic and family violence, giving them a direct line to emergency responders and support services,” Mr Wood said.

Everyone can play a vital role in helping victims of domestic violence, by either gifting your old phone, or helping raise vital funds to assist with the purchase of SIM cards, cables and postage,” Mr Wood said.

“We would also love to see more organisations and groups come on board as collection points for used phones.”

“With over 2 million known victims of domestic violence in Australia and increasing urgency arising since the start of COVID-19 lockdowns, every bit of help is vital.”

The initiative grew quickly and in 2021 we became a registered charity.”

DV Safe Phone has had 12,366 phones donated, helped 4,502 domestic violence survivors supported by a DV Safe phone, 213 front line agencies have registered through the H.A.LT map helping connect victims with a safe phone and over 580 community and corporate partnerships raising phones and funds for victims of DFV in need.

A mobile phone is something that many of us take for granted, but it can be a potential lifesaver for victims of domestic and family violence, giving them a direct line to emergency responders and support services,” Mr Wood said.

“Working and unused mobile phones and charging plugs are donated to the collection point, sent to the DV Safe Phone project team where they are erased, recycled and tested before being forwarded to victims in need of a mobile phone.”

If you would like to be part of the initiative by nominating your organisation as a collection point or to donate, contact the group online at

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