Today, the ACT’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee has delivered its final report to the ACT Government to improve the prevention of sexual violence and responses to victim survivors. The report is entitled ‘Listen: Take action to prevent, believe and heal’.
“This report was commissioned as an acknowledgement of the seriousness of sexual violence and brings together feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, including those working on the front line of responding to sexual assault in our community – and most importantly, victim survivors,” said Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette Berry.
“Its publication is part of an ongoing journey to improve our community’s response to and prevention of sexual violence.”
“The report makes for hard reading. It tells a story of a system and sub-sectors that can be reformed to better support victims of sexual abuse.”
“Our response framework can work in a more integrated way, ensuring that victim survivors are supported to engage along a journey of healing that often requires engagement with multiple services and sub-sectors over a lengthy period of time.”
The report makes broad-reaching recommendations that span across the government, private and non‑government sectors and will require implementation over an extended period. A detailed Government Response to the report – outlining actions to be undertaken in response to its findings – will be delivered in the first half of 2022.
The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee was established following a tripartisan commitment to take action to prevent and respond to sexual assault in Canberra. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee, its working groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultation Committee, heard directly from stakeholders – including victim survivors.
While the full Government Response to the report will be delivered in the New Year, some initial work has already commenced in anticipation of the recommendations, including:
- $1.5 million over four years was committed in the 2021-22 Budget for the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.
- Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care at Canberra Health Services being actively involved in training frontline workers in sexual violence.
- In July 2021, the Education Directorate held a Respectful Relationships, Sexuality and Consent Education Roundtable event in collaboration with the University of Canberra. The event provided an opportunity to explore current research, understand what is happening in schools and identify gaps and opportunities to strengthen relationships, sexuality, and consent education in all ACT schools.
- Collaborative work involving the Director of Public Prosecutions, ACT Policing, Victims of Crime Commissioner and the Coordinator-General for Family Safety is underway to improve the justice system, including reflecting on past cases.
Minister Berry said “I would like to take this opportunity to thank victim survivors and stakeholder experts, for generously sharing their knowledge and lived experience of the system. Addressing sexual assault and sexual violence needs a whole of government and whole of community response. Today marks the beginning of the next step on this shared journey to achieve a safer community for all.”
The Steering Committee’s final report can be accessed here: https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/sexual-assault-prevention-and-response.