Sexual assault services call for action as government fails to deliver 2022 strategy
November 12 marks two years since the landmark Victorian Law Reform Commission Sexual Offences report, which laid out how to reshape the way courts, policy and support services respond to victim survivors of sexual violence, was handed down.
Both survivors and sexual assault services helped shape the report and welcomed the government's promise to deliver a 10-year sexual violence strategy by 2022.
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said, 'This landmark report highlights just how much work there is to do to deliver a justice system that works for victim-survivors. It’s an enormous job – and we’ll work closely with those who know this issue best to get it done. To victim-survivors, we hear you. The system must change. This is too important not to act.'
But the plan is now one year late, and survivors continue to suffer unnecessarily. With a new premier and cabinet there is a new opportunity to drag the justice system into the post-#metoo era.
Kathleen Maltzahn, CEO, Sexual Assault Services Victoria (SASVic), the sector’s peak body, is looking for comprehensive improvements to responses to sexual violence, from initial reporting to investigations, trial and support services.
“Survivors have been incredibly patient waiting for the government, but sexual assault services see the profound harm being done to survivors, and we're sick of waiting. We know what needs to be done both to prevent sexual violence and to make sure survivors aren't further traumatised when they seek justice. We need Premier Allen's government to keep its word to survivors and take action.'
In the next three weeks, between the second anniversary of the delivery of the Victorian Law Reform Commission report (November 12) and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), the Victorian specialist sexual assault sector will be campaigning for the Allen government to:
fully fund and deliver its overdue sexual violence strategy to address all forms of sexual violence
improve justice options and outcomes for people impacted by sexual violence
grow and resource a strong peak and specialist sexual assault sector.
The scale of the problem
It is estimated that 22% of women in Victoria over 15 have experienced sexual violence and that more than 1 in 4 people have experienced child sexual abuse.
In 2022, there were 6,067 victims of sexual assault recorded in Victoria. However, 9 out of 10 women who experience sexual assault by a male perpetrator do not contact the police.
Victorian specialist sexual assault services are funded to provide services to only 14,890 adults, children and young people annually. Despite this, in 2022, they provided support to nearly 20,000 people.
What the sector is calling for
Sexual Assault Services Victoria (SASVic) is the peak body for Victoria's 18 specialist sexual assault and harmful sexual behaviour services in Victoria. Our members provide support to 20,000 survivors and young people a year. Together, we work to promote rights, recovery and respect for victim survivors and other people impacted by sexual violence and harm. We seek to achieve this by working collectively to change the attitudes, systems and structures that enable sexual violence to occur.
Kathleen Maltzahn, CEO, Sexual Assault Services Victoria (SASVic) 0437 911 901