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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 31 March 2021) . . Page.. 719 ..


Of course, people who have experienced sexual assault will come through in different ways. I think Mrs Jones’s point about a single phone number is important, but it is also important to recognise that people will do different things. Some people will go to the emergency department and the people at the front of the emergency department will be the first people they tell that they have been sexually assaulted. Other people will go to the police and then they will be guided to the forensic service. Other people will ring the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. Others may ring 1800RESPECT. We will not be able to dictate to people that they access a single port of call, and it is appropriate that there are a range of support services available. The important thing is that all of those services are working together and that, as Mrs Jones says, we can have one phone number that people know that they can ring when they need access to a service as well as support.

The FAMSAC team and both emergency departments have well-established links with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and other support services and processes in place to ensure that there is support in place for victims who attend either clinic. All sexual assault forensic medical examinations are undertaken by FAMSAC staff, due to the significant level of training required to undertake this type of work to meet the subsequent court requirements.

There were some comments from Mrs Jones in the Canberra Times this morning and I want to correct some of those things. I know that this is an ongoing conversation so, again, this is not a criticism of Mrs Jones. My strong advice is that it is not the case that access to FAMSAC is more difficult if police are not involved. For those people who turn up to the emergency department, they will also get access to that service. As I have said, there is a direct phone number. I found that by putting into a search engine “Canberra sexual assault service” it was relatively easy to find. I recognise that may have been the feedback that Mrs Jones has received, but that is not the advice that I have. Again, I am very keen to work through those issues.

FAMSAC has designed the service to ensure access for patients who are unsure whether to report to police. I think that is a really important point: it is not simply a forensic pathway for people who have made a decision to report to police and made a decision to pursue that course of action. In this case, patients may be offered a forensic medical examination where evidence is collected and stored just in case they subsequently go on to report their assault to police. There are, however, time limits on the storage of this evidence, due to evidence degradation. All patients are seen initially by the FAMSAC triage nurse, and if the patient is not able to provide consent initially for forensic medical evidence collection, the FAMSAC nurse will leave contact details with the person if they want to report within the time frame for evidence collection to be arranged. As Mrs Jones’s motion notes and my amendment continues to note, there are obviously some constraints on the time and the way in which forensic evidence can be collected and what happens if people have washed et cetera.

FAMSAC also provides clinical care after acute injury needs are met. While it does not provide counselling or counselling advocacy services, the Rape Crisis Centre and the Victim Services Scheme do provide those services and FAMSAC will connect


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