The federal government has cut funding to a program that helps central Victorian women and children flee family violence.
WESNET's Safer Technology for Women Program provides more than 600 phones a month to vulnerable women who are escaping family violence.
The program, which has been recognised internationally, has also trained more than 8000 front-line workers.
"We find a lot of survivors for various reasons do not have access to technology," WESNET national director Karen Bentley said.
"Either they can't afford it or the technology they have is compromised or owned by their abusers.
"Our program not only provides new phones for these women, it also trains front-line agencies around what is going on.
"That increases their tech savviness and they, in turn, are able to increase survivors' knowledge of how to be safe online."
The federal government advised WESNET the funding would be one-off and would cease on June 30, 2020.
While Telstra has committed to donating the 6000 phones needed for the program annually, WESNET will need to find about $1 million per year to keep the program running.
Ms Bentley said the organisation had received no firm reason from the government about why the funding would be discontinued.
The Department of Social Services said WESNET failed to apply for three government grant rounds.
But Ms Bentley said WESNET was ineligible for those grants because they were focused on crisis accommodation and supporting men take leadership roles, or were invitation only.
Bendigo women's refuge Annie North uses the Safer Technology program. The organisation's chief executive Julie Oberin said the program was particularly important for women in rural and regional Australia.
"It can literally save lives," Ms Oberin said. "It's so simple but so effective. Regional and rural women are more socially isolated and they often have very little autonomy, especially in small communities.
"Having a phone that is secure really does have an impact. It's not an expensive program, but front-line services wouldn't be able to support it without funding.
"It's such a critical service. It would be ridiculous to take it away."
Ms Oberin said it was disappointing the government made the announcement during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
"I think it shows what the government values and I don't think they value women's safety," Ms Oberin said.
"They cut funding to critical programs when they should be celebrating and extending programs like this. The Commonwealth doesn't care about women."
Ms Bentley said WESNET would continue to work with the federal government to see if the program could be funded on an ongoing basis.
If that was unsuccessful, the organisation would look to state funding or private companies.
"It's a really excellent program that has positive outcomes for women," Ms Bentley said.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.