Page 882 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 29 March 2023

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(b) the ACT does have an online option for reporting historical sexual assault, however, it is not as accessible as the NSW version, nor does it allow for current day reporting; and

(c) by introducing an online sexual assault reporting option, victim survivors in the ACT will have another way to share their experiences and ACT Policing will be given further insight into sexual assault matters; and

(3) calls on the ACT Government to:

(a) introduce a streamlined, accessible online sexual assault reporting option available in various languages for victim survivors by 1 July 2023; and

(b) provide an update and any relevant documentation to the Assembly by 1 July 2023.

I am pleased to speak on this motion, which is listed on the notice paper in my name today. This motion calls on the ACT government to introduce a streamlined, accessible online sexual assault reporting option, to be made available in various languages, for victim survivors. This motion follows the successful implementation of a new online sexual assault reporting option for victim survivors in New South Wales, which started earlier this year. That database allows victim survivors to report their experiences to police, either anonymously or they can elect to be identified and request that the matter is investigated further.

The streamlined and accessible online database allows victim survivors to lodge reports in a safe place and does not require them to undertake a formal police interview to pass on the relevant information. The uptake of this online option in New South Wales was immense and immediate. It was reported that more than 300 reports were made via the online portal within just the first fortnight—nearly a third of the total reports made in New South Wales in 2022.

We know that sexual assault is a widely under-reported crime. Advocacy organisation Full Stop Australia tells us that only 20 per cent of sexual assault crimes are reported to police. The under-reporting of sexual assault is due to a variety of reasons. Victim survivors may fear being re-traumatised; or, if the perpetrator is someone close to them, they may also fear repercussions from this person. Police attitudes is another often-stated obstacle, with victim survivors fearing being judged or disrespected by officers, albeit often unintentionally so.

People from the LGBTIQ+ community have a complexity of reasons for not wanting to report sexual assaults to police. They may fear a lack of understanding that sexual violence can occur to people that are not heterosexual—fears that are only heightened given the historical, low levels of trust between LGBTIQ+ people and the state.

Sexual assault is an incredibly complex societal issue. Preventing sexual assault, improving responses to victim survivors, reducing barriers in the judicial system and providing better support to victim survivors to heal are all areas that require significant improvement.

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