Sexual violence advocates welcome $14.7 million government investment

Sexual violence advocates welcome $14.7 million government investment in justice system

sexual violence

The Albanese government will allocate $14.7 million for strengthening the criminal justice system’s response to sexual assault and preventing further harm to victims through the justice process. 

With this recent announcement, many survivor-advocate and response organisations are welcoming the move and offering advice for how justice system reform and sexual violence support services can be improved. 

Acknowledging the importance of this investment, Ministers in the official government statement said: “Seeking justice should not add to the trauma experienced by victims and survivors. Nor should they be forced to navigate different legal processes and face different justice outcomes based on which state or territory they live in.”

The allocation of this $14.7 million investment will include $6.5 million towards work in this area with states and territories over four years. 

The remaining $8.2 million will be made available through to 2026-27 to design, deliver and evaluate multiple small-scale trials of primary prevention and early intervention concepts for the prevention of sexual harm and violence.

The Albanese government notes that these trials will be the first of their kind in Australia and will help guide future funding as they establish what interventions work in practice. 

An estimated 1 in 5 women in Australia have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15, according to ABS stats. And sexual assaults are on the rise, with an increase of 13 per cent of police recorded victims since 2021.

Having long advocated for survivors of sexual violence, Full Stop Australia has said they welcome this much needed investment.

The survivor-advocate organisation is urging the government to focus its efforts to strengthen the way the criminal justice system respondes to sexual assault on key initiatives, such as introducing affirmative consent laws in all states and territories as well as automatically considering victim-survivors of sexual assault to be vulnerable witnesses entitled to additional support and protection while giving evidence.

Other initiatives that Full Stop is advocating for include introducing reforms enabling greater admissibility of tendency and coincidence evidence for both child sexual abuse and sexual offense matters, improving access to legal assistance and resources by survivors of sexual violence and creating a national, trauma-informed education program for all justice system staff to dispel common rape myths and misconceptions about sexual assault. 

“With shamefully low conviction and prosecution rates, with end-to-end burden placed firmly at the feet of victim-survivors, it is clear that the system is not functioning in the way that it should,” says CEO of Full Stop Australia, Tara Hunter.

Another organisation campaigning for a gender equal future, Fair Agenda has said the government’s recent investment announcement to better responses to sexual assault is a positive step forward. 

“Right now it’s estimated that only 1 per cent of rapists are arrested, then prosecuted and sentenced. We know police often fail to take reports of sexual assault seriously; and those who try to seek justice in our courts end up feeling like they’re the ones on trial,” says Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda.

“This $14.7 million over four years for these structural and preventative measures is positive, and good progress. Our police, legal and court systems need major reforms in these areas; and we’re hopeful that this process could help enable that.”

Noting the acute problems with sexual violence in universities that haven’t been included in previous government action plans, Carr says that Fair Agenda would like to see the government’s work in this area expand to other sectors and institutions like universities that are currently enabling harm. 

Pointing to the necessity for quality support services, Carr also says that, “right now, if a rape survivor calls 1800 RESPECT for trauma counselling support, they’re often referred to sexual assault services that have months-long wait lists.”

“Experts are calling on the federal government to allocate at least $1 billion a year to sexual, domestic and family violence services and response. Right now funding is only halfway to that figure. We’ll be watching closely for an increase toward that figure in next week’s budget.”


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