The Department of Social Development has launched the National Emergency Response Team (NERT) to provide psycho-social support to victims affected by gender-based violence.

Launched by Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu on Tuesday, the NERT is a mobile service that consists of social workers, psychologists specializing in trauma, as well as a professional sign language interpreter.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said the team is deployed via the department's 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre, and provides trauma counselling in the private spaces of survivors.

"The team will be the ones who will take full responsibility for early intervention and referral, monitor gender based violence incidences reported in the media and deploy the team instantly, provide psycho-social support to all affected, debrief the trauma teams follow up and management of cases towards finalization and will facilitate community dialogues where there are high prevalence of reported cases as part of healing and consolidations of interventions as government," the Deputy Minister explained.

Enhanced command centre

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister announced that later this month, the department will launch the enhanced command centre that will enable hearing impaired women and children to access the services of the centre.

Eight hearing impaired social workers are expected to join the centre in December.

"We will also be launching and distributing personal alarms (memeza) linked to the command centre and SAPS for when you are unable to make the call, the alarm will make it for you and a response team will be deployed accordingly."

The Command Centre is a toll-free line -- 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV) -- with a staff of 48 social workers that provides professional service and can geo-locate callers.

The centre, which receives more than 1 500 calls a day, is managed by qualified social workers.

Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from a cellphone.

By South African Government News Agency

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