Inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence

The Centre for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing welcomed the opportunity to provide a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence. Sexual violence is a devastating issue in our community which creates lasting harm.

Western Australia has just six specialist sexual assault services despite being the largest State in Australia.  The five regional services funded a total of just $1.7 million a year. It is impossible to meet the needs of sexual violence victim-survivors in such a restricted funding environment. We cannot have change to the justice process without significant complementary funding for specialist sexual assault services.

The Centre also cannot ignore the invisibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders victim-survivors of sexual violence. It is urgent their voices are elevated as part of this inquiry. We urge the ALRC to consider specific, culturally appropriate approaches designed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim-survivors who are overrepresented in sexual violence. 

Despite years of reform and review, justice outcomes have changed very little for sexual assault victim-survivors. In some instances, outcomes are worse. As such, it is necessary that sexual violence is dealt with through specialist approaches. We believe this is the only way to start to shift the dial on justice outcomes.

The Centre has made several recommendations to the ALRC inquiry including: 

      • Adequate Government funding for specialist sexual assault services

      • Implementation of specialist justice responses to sexual violences including:

      • Separate sexual violence courts or lists

      • Specialist sexual violence prosecutors

      • Dedicated sexual violence responders in each police district

      • Funding for justice navigators within specialist sexual assault services to support victim survivors throughout the justice journey

      • National approach to protecting counselling and sexual assault communications

      • Pilot accessible models for the delivery of forensic and medical examinations for regional and remote areas, including local specialist sexual assault services.

    It is urgent and imperative that innovative, evidence-based reform is made collectively and consistently around Australia. The changes must prioritise victim-survivors and be fully funded to be effective.

    Read The Centre’s submission here

    CWSW E News


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