Stopping sexual violence should become everyone’s business

CW: this statement discusses sexual violence

Like other forms of violence, sexual violence is a major health and welfare issue in Western Australia as well as nationally and internationally. Sexual violence can negatively affect a victim-survivors wellbeing and may lead to adverse long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

Positive changes have been made by governments and people working in the justice system. But this important work is far from over, and much more needs to be done.  Too often, people who have experienced sexual violence do not get what they need or want from the justice system. They need to be supported; to be heard; to have a voice; and to see the person responsible held to account. Instead, the justice system often leaves them feeling alone, invisible, and as if they are the ones on trial.  Using the justice system can be traumatic for people who experience sexual violence.

We also need to build a community that understands sexual violence and supports people who experience it.

People still do not talk openly about sexual violence. They do not always know it is a crime, or how to reach out for support or to find justice. Nine out of ten women do not report sexual assault to police. When a person discloses sexual violence, they do not always get a supportive response. These things are barriers to justice. Thus investment in ongoing public education about sexual violence is critical. Stopping sexual violence should become ‘everyone’s business.’ Schools, employers, and organisations like clubs should have stronger obligations to do what they can to eliminate sexual violence and harassment.

It is in this context that the Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing welcomes the WA Government’s two major reviews to examine WA’s sexual offence laws: 

  • Law Reform Commission of WA to scrutinise WA’s sexual offence laws and the legal concept of ‘consent’
  • Department of Justice to review the end-to-end criminal justice process for victims of sexual offending, from reporting an offence to the release of the offender

These concurrent and complementary reviews will examine a multitude of issues relating to sexual offending to ensure laws and practices deliver justice outcomes to victim-survivors in Western Australia and adequately reflect community expectations.

The CWSW will actively engage in this law reform process as well as the development of Western Australia’s first Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy. This work will be strongly supported by the Sexual Violence Expert Advisory Group (SVEAG). The SVEAG is co-chaired by Dr Alison Evans, Director of Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence at the Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing and Nicole Lambert, Deputy Chair of the CWSW Board. Members include:

Professor Donna Chung – Curtin University

Damian Green – CEO, Stopping Family Violence

Louise Lamont – CEO, Phoenix Support and Advocacy Service

Dr Jennie Gray – CEO, Women’s Legal Services WA

Gloria Moyle – CEO, Goldfields Women’s Health Care Centre

Sophie McCashin – Marninwarntikura Women’s Resource Centre

Daphne White – Practice Development Specialist, CWSW

Ally Smart – Consultant

In an emergency, or if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call the police now on 000.

If it’s not an emergency and you need support, please contact your local services or contact the crisis line below. This phone service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trained, compassionate professionals are available to help you connect to available resources and discuss the options that are available to you. The calls are confidential.

National Sexual Assault, Domestic & Family Violence Counselling Service



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