Three friends shocked by the rape and murder of Jill Meagher have created an app to prevent other women from being attacked on their way home.
Matt Ball, Ross Sbisa and Chris Jonker designed Safie, an app that alerts friends if the user is in trouble and records their location, audio and video of the situation.
Mr Sbisa said the trio had reviewed coverage of the search for Mrs Meagher, the discovery of her body and the arrest of her killer in 2102 and decided to do something about it.
‘I am a father of three beautiful daughters and a beautiful wife. I thought to myself, “This has got to stop,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
Mr Sbisa (pictured with his daughters) wanted to improve safety for Australians after the high-profile murder of Mrs Meagher
Mr. Sbisa and his wife started investigating and were alarmed by how little information there was about security.
He discussed the issue with Mr. Ball, a personal security expert, and Mr. Jonker, a digital expert, and they started working on the program.
The app allows people to alert their designated contact that they are in trouble, send images from both the front and back of the camera, and pinpoint their location.
A panic button sends pre-written SMS alerts to inform contacts why the users need help.
Once pressed, the app starts continuously taking photos, recording audio and activating a GPS locator, while sending an alert to a designated emergency contact.
The Safie app (pictured) can be used for a variety of scenarios, from kids alerting parents that they are lost, to friends asking friends for help to escape awkward situations
The button can be used to notify friends or family that you have arrived at a destination, children telling parents they are lost, or to contact a friend to get you out of an awkward social situation.
The latest request, the ‘I’m not OK’ button, arose out of the stress of lockdowns and a growing national awareness of the prevalence of mental health problems, especially among young adults.
Mr. Sbisa said the app was initially designed to help kids be safe, but once they started developing it, they realized it has a wide range of uses.
Jill Meagher (pictured above) was a 29-year-old Irish woman living in Australia who was raped and murdered by Bayley in Melbourne in September 2012.
“At first, we started thinking about all the situations our kids might find themselves in,” he said.
“We imagined everyday events such as going to and from school or playing sports, going to the movies or the beach with friends, wandering on family outings.
‘Then the ideas started to grow; a teenager who needs to be picked up from a party, an adult who needs a phone call to get out of a first date mistake, an older person who has had an accident, or even someone who is feeling down.
‘The more research we did, the more applications we found. A young driver can let a parent know that he has arrived safely.
‘Companies can use it for employees who come in and go through areas that don’t feel safe in the late hours.’
Mr Sbisa said the panic button is a great tool to help people seek help in situations where they may be too shocked to respond.
“People freeze when they’re scared,” he said.
“Finding out how to get out of a dangerous or awkward situation can take time or be impossible at the time.
Matt Ball, Ross Sbisa, Chris Jonker (pictured in name order from left to right) created an app to help Australian women get help quickly when they’re in trouble
“If you’ve worked it out before, you can act. You get help, you get out and you are safe.’
Safie is available on both IOS and Android phones and is available to download now.
Meagher was raped and murdered by a stranger in September 2012 on the short walk back to the Melbourne apartment she shared with her husband, Tom.
Creepy CCTV footage was broadcast on Australian TV screens showing the 29-year-old was approached on his way home by Adrian Bayley – who would later receive a life sentence for her murder – in the hopes that the missing woman would be found safely .
Her body was found six days later in a shallow grave north of Melbourne.