Page 1254 - Week 03 - Thursday, 22 March 2012

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Questions without notice taken on notice

Crime—sexual assault

Mr Corbell (in reply to a question by Mrs Dunne on Wednesday, 22 February 2012): The Report on Government Services (ROGS) 2012 is captured from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2009-2010 Crime Victimisation survey. It should be noted that during this reporting period, the ACT recorded the highest reporting rate for sexual assault in the nation, which is a positive result.

More recent data contained in the soon to be released December 2011 Quarterly Criminal Justice Statistical Profile, reports that sexual assault offences in the ACT increased by 3% for this quarter (being 3 more offences than last quarter) and increased by 17% annually (being 52 more offences than December 2010). From year to year, data in the ACT can fluctuate. This can occur, for example, because of the reporting of a large number of sexual assaults committed by a single perpetrator.

The ROGS data must be regarded together with the national Survey of Community Satisfaction with Policing data that shows that, in the ACT, women’s perception of safety in the community (both inside and outside the home) is consistently above the national average.

We know from the research that sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes in Australia. The 2006 ABS People Safety Survey tells us that nationally, only 19% of victims of sexual assault report to police. The 2012 People Safety Survey is currently underway and for the first time, the sample size for the ACT will allow statistically significant observations to be drawn for this jurisdiction.

Under the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022, work is being undertaken to improve the legal response to domestic and family violence and sexual assault, and to promote responses from criminal justice agencies. One of the measures of success for these efforts will be ‘an increase in the rate of women reporting domestic violence and sexual assault’.

The ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017, Our Responsibility — Ending Violence Against Women and Children, has as one of its long term goals ‘a reduction in the prevalence of violence against women and children’. A primary objective under our responsibility is that women and children are safe because an anti-violence culture exists in the ACT. One of the ways this will be achieved is by promoting and supporting public discussions about violence against women and children. An increased rate of reporting of sexual assault and family violence will be the inevitable result of these public discussions.

The ACT Government also continues to improve service responses for people reporting sexual assault under the broad umbrella of the Sexual Assault Reform Program.

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