As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our community, instructions to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus have created unintended challenges for some of the most vulnerable among us, including victims of domestic violence. Many are facing increased risk, and are left with few safe options to access resources, seek help, or plan an exit. 

Experts have reported a surge in domestic violence globally in the last few weeks, and as demand increases, many shelters and service providers are seeking urgent assistance.

Uber is partnering with domestic violence organisations to provide 50,000 free rides to shelters and safe spaces in more than 35 cities across 16 countries. In Australia we’re expanding our partnership with WESNET (Women’s Services Network) to provide 3,000 free rides for WESNET partner organisations to use to support those needing safe travel to or from shelters and domestic violence support services. 

This initiative is part of Uber’s pledge to provide 10 million free rides and deliveries to those who need them most during this unprecedented time, and builds on our existing fund of $50,000 worth of ridesharing credit that is available to WESNET partner organisations to use through Uber for Business.

Karen Bentley, National Director of WESNET, said that the free rides donated by Uber are even more important during the pandemic. 

“With around half of the domestic and family violence services in Australia now working remotely, the free rides program has enabled women to have safe, free transport to attend vital appointments, employment and child contact visits, and maintain social distancing. Giving services the flexibility to use the Uber app to book at any time and have a live view of the car at all times is an additional safety feature which is really important in keeping women safe.

WESNET is a national women’s peak advocacy body which works on behalf of women and children who are experiencing or have experienced domestic or family violence. With almost 350 members across Australia, WESNET represents a range of organisations and individuals including women’s refuges, shelters, safe houses and information/ referral services. 

At Uber, we’re extremely grateful for their tireless efforts, and those of their partner organisations, to support our communities during this especially difficult time. 

Each of us can help others access resources and safe spaces. If you need help, or know someone who does, there are resources available: phone or chat with 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). Domestic and Family violence services and police are still open and helping women.