Chris Boyle is the founder of ‘Commsync’ which harnesses the power of technology to eliminate domestic violence connecting vulnerable community members to their safety network, through the push of a button.
I was raised by my mother (who is also a social worker) and she taught me at a very early age the importance of social justice and respect. Having worked in the child protection and family support sector for over 20 years, I have witnessed the government and non-government systems struggle to meet the needs of vulnerable children, women and families. I recall when I first started out working, I met a young boy who had been removed from his family, and he was openly weeping, describing how he had no hope for his future, as he saw children like himself either end up in prison or in less fortunate situations like being homeless, by the time they became adults. I made a commitment right then to make a difference. In 2012, I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to explore how different countries around the world addressed abuse and better supported families and communities.
Following my Churchill Fellowship, I was chatting with my friends (and co-founders) Tom O’Neill, who has a career in technology and Rachael Trihey, who is a foster carer. We were lamenting why, despite billions of dollars a year being spent on domestic violence campaigns and responses, the numbers of children and women exposed continues to grow. We reflected that perhaps what is being funded isn’t working or getting to those at risk who need it the most. We wanted to create a solution that operates in real time and is meaningful and tangible for them. In addition to this, our philosophy is that the most vulnerable shouldn’t have to pay for it either. That’s when and why we founded the Commsync Foundation.
At Commsync, our collective passion is to protect the safety of vulnerable women and children exposed to domestic violence in real time. All of our safety plans are tailormade to individuals and can be programmed into a range of wearable devices; which are activated at the push of a button, sending live audio and their location to their chosen safety network. Women and children have reported back to us that it is like having their own private security detail with them and they won’t leave home without their watches, with one saying, “the feeling of having my life back is awesome”. It’s hearing stories like these that keeps us motivated and connected to the purpose of why we founded Commsync.
To fund our startup, we’ve continued to work in our day jobs to pay the bills and feed our families. The major challenges can be summarised into two broad areas – the pace in which technology moves and the slowness of the system that responds to domestic violence. However, through two years of persistence and support, we are pleased to see the shift has finally begun.
It’s a great privilege also to be part of the Optus Future Makers program and to be given the support to accelerate our solutions, as nothing is more urgent or important than the safety of vulnerable women and children.
Women Love Tech would like to thank Chris Boyle for his article.
The other two finalists for the Optus Future Makers Programme are as follows:
Rory Darkins, (NSW) – ‘What’s Right – Thrive’ is a life coach-in-your pocket. The app empowers users to become the best version of themselves and helps removes barriers that prevent disadvantaged people from accessing the support they need to thrive. What’s Right’s AI technology aims to remove this affordability barrier by delivering world-class coaching through a fully automated yet personalised ‘virtual coach’.
Dr Stefan Schutt, (Vic) – ‘vPlay’ is an online program that helps people with Autism who have trouble mastering social interaction and have difficulty finding jobs. vPlay provides people with Autism the necessary tools to practise both ‘people’ and ‘technical’ skills through