Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 May 2021) . . Page.. 1224 ..
However, I would like to challenge us further in the way we think. Statistics suggest that the vast majority of sexual violence happens at the hands of a perpetrator that is known to the victim. At a national level, the personal safety survey of Australia found that this is the case for 87 per cent of sexual assaults. These are not random acts of violence; they are calculated and happen within the broader context of people’s lives. That changes how we may respond.
The most common perpetrator type was a previous partner—26 per cent—followed closely by a boyfriend or a date. An estimated 40 per cent of women who experienced sexual assault by a male were assaulted in their own home, in the most recent incident. A further 17 per cent were sexually assaulted in the perpetrator’s home. A further 13 per cent were assaulted in another person’s home.
Eighty-six per cent of women sexually assaulted by a male did not contact police. Of those who reported to police, only a quarter saw convictions—about 3.5 per cent. Half of all women who experienced sexual assault by a male sought advice or support about the most recent incident. Of these women, 71 per cent sought advice or support from a friend or a family member. Over half of the women who had experienced sexual assault by a male felt anxiety or fear for their personal safety in the 12 months after the reported incident.
To summarise these statistics, women are predominantly sexually assaulted by someone they know, in their own home; they do not contact police; they will talk to a trusted friend or family member; and they feel long-term impacts of anxiety and fear for their personal safety.
Now let us flip it. What does the perpetrator look like? He looks like someone you know. He knows his victim; he knows where she lives; he probably knows her friends and family. He probably has a pretty good hunch that she will not go to the police. As a society, we do not critique how he manipulated her—how many drinks he bought her or how he put intense pressure on her to go home, especially to her house, where perhaps she thought she might have more control over what happens and feel safer. We do not critique the perpetrator’s actions.
The perpetrators of this violence in our community need to be put squarely in the frame. As long as there is so little accountability and responsibility for sexual violence, nothing will change. This is a cultural response as much as a criminal justice response.
I look forward to working with Minister Berry on the sexual assault and prevention response program to ensure that we, as a community and a society, together bring an end to sexual violence and communicate a strong message to perpetrators that they will be held to account.
MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (10.19): I thank Minister Berry for her work in this area and recognise the fact that this is an issue that we need a whole-of-government response on. I would like to particularly focus on the issues as they relate to the housing and homelessness service area.