Uber partners with domestic violence charity to provide women with free rides

Anyone who chooses to use a simple Uber feature next week will be able to give a free ride to a woman fleeing domestic violence thanks to a new initiative.

Uber has partnered with domestic violence organisation WESNET to launch its Share a ride, Gift a ride safety campaign to increase awareness of violence affecting women in Australia.

Users just have to select to share their ride with a trusted contact, an option that appears on the screen after an Uber ride begins, and the company will then provide a woman affected by domestic violence with a free ride voucher each time the option is selected from November 25 – December 10.

“We know lots of people use Uber every day, and the vast majority of people don’t want violence against women,” WESNET chief executive Karen Bentley said.

“But quite often people don’t feel like they can make a difference, but here is a really tangible, practical way that you can.”

Uber has partnered with WESNET, the peak body which represents over 300 domestic violence services in Australia, since 2019, and provides average of five free rides to vulnerable women each day.

Ms Bentley says that the Covid-19 pandemic caused logistic issues for shelters attempting to help women fleeing violence, describing the Uber vouchers as a “blessing”.

“When we entered the pandemic, and everybody was in lockdown, your average domestic and family violence service, which used to have staff at an office and they might have had some staff vehicles… all of a sudden they‘re not there,” she said.

“How are we going to help [a woman] get from the station when she’s relocated 250kms from home to get away from her abuser?

“Who’s going to pick up mum and three kids and get them into the women’s shelter.”

Not only did the pandemic cause logistic issues, but it also caused an “upsurge” of the number of domestic violence incidences.

“Women who had previously never experienced violence before were suddenly starting to experience for the first time, and many women who had been experiencing it, had it get a lot worse,” Ms Bentley said.

The campaign is also hoped to raise awareness about the safety features found on the Uber app.

To share your location while you ride, simply swipe up on the screen after requesting a trip, click the “share your status option” and select up to five people from your contact list to share your status with.

Those people will receive a text with a link containing your trip details, opening it displays your driver‘s first name and vehicle information, plus your map location in real time.

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