26 September 2023

Experts to revisit rejected sex complaints

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A multi-Agency team is to head up a review of sexual assault cases reported to ACT Policing that were not progressed to charge.

Announced by Minister for Women, Yvette Berry, the new Oversight Committee will include the Director of Public Prosecutions, ACT Policing and the Victims of Crime Commissioner, along with an independent chair to guide its work.

Ms Berry said the review, to commence in May, was being established in response to a recommendation from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee’s December Report and would examine reports made to ACT Policing between 1 July 2020 and 31 December 2021.

“This work will seek to critically inform improvements in the ACT’s response to sexual assault matters,” Ms Berry said.

“The purpose of the Review is to identify systemic issues within the justice system leading to the low number of sexual assault reports proceeding to the point of charge,” she said.

“It will also identify ways that victim rights can be better upheld, including ways to reduce the re-traumatisation that many victim survivors experience when they engage with the justice system.”

Ms Berry said $3.4 million had been allocated to the Review, under the 2021-22 ACT Budget Review, which would lead to a better understanding of the barriers that prevented complaints resulting in a charge.

The ACT Human Rights Commission welcomed the review saying it ought to understand the reasons for the low number of cases that progressed to charge, including those deemed unfounded, uncleared or withdrawn.

“The rights, interests and wellbeing of victim-survivors will remain central to each aspect of the Review,” the Rights Commission said.

It said victim-survivors and community members seeking further information could contact Victim Support ACT at [email protected] or on (02) 6207 0042.

Support for victim-survivors of sexual assault can be accessed locally through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC), (02) 6247 2525, and through Full Stop Australia, 1800 943 539.

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