16 April 2024

SASVic calls for 'long overdue' sexual violence plan as data shows 26 cases daily

| James Day
Start the conversation
Night time image of the Victorian State Parliament in Melbourne, Australia.

SASVic is calling for a fully funded, comprehensive and decade-long strategy to address sexual violence. Photo: iStock/PeterJSeager.

The peak body for specialist sexual assault services in Victoria is demanding the State Government fund a sexual violence strategy that was promised in 2021 following a report by the state’s Law Reform Commission (VLRC).

As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, SASVic is asking the government to send a strong message on budget announcement day (7 May) that current levels of sexual violence are unacceptable. The latest data from Crime Statistics Agency Victoria showed 9537 sexual offences were reported in 2023, equating to 26 a day.

SASVic CEO Kathleen Maltzahn said this was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Nine out of 10 women do not report sexual assault to police, and many children and men are also afraid to come forward,” Ms Maltzahn said.

“The number of survivors of sexual harm in the Victorian community is far more than the official statistics capture.

READ ALSO CPSU signs agreement with Victorian Government for improved salaries and conditions over next four years

“We need the Victorian Government to take action and improve outcomes and options in the legal and justice system, fully fund the work that specialist sexual assault services do, and deliver their promised sexual violence strategy.

“Only a fully funded sexual violence strategy, as recommended by the Victorian Law Reform Commission, will help drive down rates of sexual violence.”

The CEO said the clients her group helped from crisis to recovery could take years and even a lifetime, meaning access to expert support could make the difference between survivors’ ongoing suffering and recovery.

However, the government only funds services enough to respond to a tiny fraction of survivors, which has put SASVic under great pressure by having to support more people than it is funded for.

READ ALSO Audit report on $540m War Memorial upgrade finds conflicts of interest and poor reporting

One of the key recommendations from the VLRC’s report, Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences, was for the government to adopt an affirmative consent model.

In November 2021, it enforced the proposed changes into the Victorian Crimes Act 1958. Now a person must confirm they have received consent, which shifts scrutiny from the actions of the victim-survivor to those of the accused.

SASVic welcomed the changes and a $7 million funding boost over three years, but said without a clear delivery date for the strategy it committed to in 2022, the sector’s funding would run out midway through this year.

If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732 or by visiting www.1800respect.org.au. Help and support are also available through the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (Victoria) on 1800 806 292. In an emergency, call triple zero.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.