In this section:

NSW Sexual Assault Strategy 2018–2021

Responsible government

  • New South Wales

Fourth Action Plan actions

  • Respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment
    • 13 Prevent sexual violence and sexual harassment before it happens through national and targeted initiatives that promote informed consent, bodily autonomy and respectful relationships.
    • 14 Deliver client-centred, trauma-informed, specialised and consistent support to victims and survivors of sexual violence.

What are we doing?

The NSW Sexual Assault Strategy 2018-2021 (the Strategy) is a whole-of-government framework to improve prevention and response to sexual assault in NSW. The Strategy includes 26 activities under five key priority areas:

  • Prevention and early intervention
  • Education
  • Supporting victims and survivors
  • Holding perpetrators to account
  • Reshaping the service system.

What have we achieved so far?

In May 2018, the NSW Government referred a review into sexual consent in section 61HE (formerly section 61 HA) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) to the NSW Law Reform Commission. The review examines the practical application of the law, sexual assault research and expert opinion, community views, experiences of sexual assault survivors, and developments in law, policy and practice in Australia and internationally. The Commission’s final report, with recommendations, was tabled in Parliament on 18 November 2020.

The Strategy noted that the NSW Government would “consider the evaluation of the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Pilot” (CSOEP). Following a positive independent outcomes evaluation, more than $28m was invested to enable the CSOEP to continue in Newcastle and Sydney District Courts until 30 June 2022.

In 2018, the (then) Department of Justice completed a review of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Victims) Act 2018. As a result, further protections were introduced that give victims an entitlement to have a support person while they give evidence, give evidence in a court closed to the public, give evidence by playing previously recorded evidence and give a Victim Impact Statement (VIS) at sentencing in a closed court.

In December 2018, the NSW Government launched phase one of the #makenodoubt social media campaign, with the aim of raising awareness about sexual consent. The campaign reached more than 286,000 people and included outdoor promotional posters with the campaign slogan “YES? + YES! = YES” and the distribution of campaign material to universities and TAFE campuses across NSW. The second phase of the #makenodoubt campaign launched in November 2019. It used outdoor advertising to extend the initial campaign approach of simple and positive language to re-inforce the message that sexual consent must be clearly communicated.

The Strategy has supported a review of the intersections between mental health and sexual assault. The Mental Health Commission of NSW conducted a literature review and developed a discussion paper, which were completed in December 2019.

The Strategy has supported the expansion of NSW Health’s therapeutic services for children and young people who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviours. New Street Services for children and young people aged 10-17 years with harmful sexual behaviours are being rolled out across the state, including a network of full services, hub and spoke models and outreach to meet the local geographic and population needs.

The Strategy is also supporting adult survivors of child sexual abuse, where eligible, to access social housing. A new priority housing category for adult survivors of child sexual abuse on the State’s social housing waiting list went live in September 2019. Applicants need to demonstrate that they are eligible for social housing and provide evidence that they have had a successful application to the National Redress Scheme (or similar successful redress claims to institutions not currently participating in the National Redress Scheme).

The Education Centre against Violence (ECAV) has developed and launched the Adult Survivors of Sexual Assault Pilot Online Training Strategy to build capacity in the workforce to recognise, respond and support adult survivors of sexual assault. ECAV has developed 4 x 3 hour interactive webinars which will be piloted with participants from across NSW, including in regional and rural areas. The pilot commenced in February 2021 and the next series starts on 21 April 2021.

What is next?

The NSW Government has compiled a mid-point report measuring the progress of each activity against the Strategy, which was completed in October 2020. A final review will take place during year three of implementation of the Strategy in 2021.

The Strategy will deliver a range of initiatives including the following:

  • Development of an e-learning package to build the capacity of frontline workers to provide best practice, inclusive support for people from LGBTQ+ communities who have experienced sexual assault. The learning package is ready to be launched by ACON and is anticipated to be available by the end of March 2021.
  • Development of another consent campaign focussing on young people 16 to 24 years of age in 2021, further increasing community awareness about sexual consent.
  • Development of a sexual assault program to be delivered by Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation over two years (July 2020-June 2022). The sexual assault program will provide culturally appropriate support services and community education to Aboriginal women and men who have experienced sexual assault. It will be piloted in the communities of Broken Hill, Menindee and Wilcannia.
  • Specialist community engagement and research to build on successful existing community-based interventions in the LGBTQ+ community that align to the Strategy and the NSW Domestic and Family Violence Blueprint for Reform. ACON will lead a number of initiatives including a research project on the prevalence of sexual assault in LGBTQ+ communities, development of a sexual assault educational toolkit, delivery of a domestic violence perpetrator behaviour change program and delivery of two support groups for victim-survivors of sexual assault.
  • The NSW Education and Standards Authority (NESA) has completed the NSW Curriculum Review with the final report released in June 2020. Input was provided to the review highlighting the need to provide early, age appropriate education on the continuum of sexual violence and strengthening content on respectful relationships. The new NSW curriculum is expected to be implemented by 2024.

What difference will we make?

The Strategy aims to improve the service system for adults and children who experience sexual assault, while also holding perpetrators to account. The Strategy also seeks to raise community awareness of sexual violence and improve prevention and education measures in families and the wider community.

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