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Government Federal, Research Development

Report highlights the negative experiences of victim-survivors of sexual violence in the criminal justice system

RMIT University 2 mins read

An RMIT expert is available to talk about BOCSAR’s report on the experiences of victim-survivors of sexual violence in the NSW criminal justice system and says changes to improve their experiences are overdue. 

Elena Campbell, Associate Director of Research, Advocacy and Policy, Centre for Innovative Justice

Topics:sexual assault, sexual violence, police, justice system, courts, trauma informed practice 

“The findings in the report show that there are significant challenges in the current NSW legal system for people who have experienced sexual violence.   

“Poor experiences were evident right across the various stages of the justice system, including in experiences of first reporting, the response from the first police officers with whom complainants speak and officers who do the investigation, a disconnect between different parts of the system and lack of communication throughout the process, to name a few.      

“Complainants can also feel a lack of understanding and empathy from those working in the system, which is often the result of system overwhelm, as well as the result of gaps in specialised training and education in certain areas. This makes victim-survivors feel that they are pushed to the side in a system that was never designed with them in mind.     

“Victim-survivors of sexual violence have already endured a serious trauma, and without the right trauma informed approaches in the legal process, this trauma is not only exacerbated, but becomes a ‘new trauma’, as one participant explained”.  

“The primary reason victim-survivors reported to police was to protect others – and this commitment to preventing future harm shone through in their participation in this research, as did their resilience and hopes for meaningful change.  

“This report is an overdue opportunity to put the voices of victim-survivors in NSW at the centre of reform.  

“To improve the experience of complainants we need targeted public awareness campaigns, trauma informed approaches, improved facilitation of court process and training for front line workers.     

By understanding and addressing the barriers to reporting a sexual offence, we can improve the legal process so that it’s a safe and supportive experience for those who have already experienced serious trauma.     

This research was undertaken by RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice and KPMG and commissioned and published by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) in response to a recommendation in the 2020 NSW Law Reform Commission report ‘Consent in relation to sexual offences”. 

Elena Campbell’s research focuses on therapeutic justice and improvements to the justice system to prevent and eliminate violence against women. Elena oversees a program of research looking at the ways in which experiences of trauma push people into contact with the justice system.  

Contact details:

Interviews: Elena Campbell0448 038 177 or  


General media enquiries: RMIT External Affairs and Media, 0439 704 077 or 

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