In this section:

Improving specialist Sexual Assault Services

Responsible government

  • New South Wales

Fourth Action Plan actions

  • Respond to sexual violence and sexual harassment
    • 14 Deliver client-centred, trauma-informed, specialised and consistent support to victims and survivors of sexual violence.

What are we doing?

The NSW Government is investing $29.1 million over five years from 2018-19 to improve access to specialist services for victim/survivors of sexual assault, as part of the NSW Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

NSW Health is piloting a new integrated, specialist treatment service for adult victim-survivors with complex needs. This pilot aims to improve care through specialist sexual assault trauma counselling and integrated case management with mental health and drug and alcohol services.

NSW Health is also improving access to sexual assault services by building workforce capacity and community development activities. This will focus on groups which may be disproportionately impacted by sexual abuse and who may require tailored responses, including Aboriginal people and people with disability.

What have we achieved so far?

NSW Health has commenced a project to increase and improve the capacity of Health’s Sexual Assault Services to provide appropriate therapeutic support to Aboriginal clients.

The NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence has expanded its Aboriginal Workforce Development Team to increase support available to services. An Aboriginal Expert Group (AEG) has been established and is providing leadership in the ongoing implementation of work to improve access and workforce capacity within NSW Health Sexual Assault Services.

Senior Executives from all Local Health Districts participated in intensive cultural competency workshops delivered by an Aboriginal consultancy. The Aboriginal consultancy is developing a Road Map and Toolkit to provide practical support and guidance to Senior Executives to implement local service and systems improvements that aim to increase accessibility of Sexual Assault Services for Aboriginal people and to expand, support and retain the Sexual Assault Services Aboriginal workforce.

Readiness funding has been distributed across NSW to support local health districts complete the necessary preparation and readiness work to support the successful establishment of the Safe Wayz program and an expanded Aboriginal workforce across Sexual Assault Services. All districts have developed local Safe Wayz Implementation Plans and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network has been funded to recruit clinical and cultural advisors to support the Districts. Aboriginal Action Plans are being supported by an Aboriginal Expert Group to continue their readiness work.

NSW Health has also published the NSW Health Sexual Assault Services and New Street Services Access Strategy for People with Disability 2021-2025 (the Strategy) and accompanying evidence-based needs assessment and Disability Co-design Framework developed by ECAV in partnership with the University of NSW and Flinders University. The Strategy sets out a framework to improve access for people with disability to NSW Health specialist Sexual Assault Services and New Street services for children and young people who have engaged in problematic or harmful sexualised behaviours, including support for their families and carers, by enhancing specialist therapeutic practice and building workforce capacity for disability inclusion. ECAV has established a Co-Design Advisory Committee represented by people with disability to support and provide strategic guidance on implementation of the Strategy. An evaluation framework has been developed to track NSW Health’s progress in increasing access for people with disability to specialist sexual assault services. ECAV has been funded to establish a new Disability and Sexual Violence Team that are leading this work.

In addition, South Eastern Sydney and Mid North Coast Local Health Districts have been funded for three years (2019-2022) to develop, pilot and evaluate a new integrated service for adult survivors of child sexual abuse with complex needs. The pilot project aims to improve outcomes for survivors by reducing repeat crisis presentations through specialist trauma counselling, wrap-around support and coordinated case management between NSW Health Sexual Assault Services, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Aboriginal Health and community services. South Eastern Sydney are piloting an outreach, community development and partnership model and Mid North Coast were funded to trial establishment of an Aboriginal-led model of care. Both pilot sites have commenced seeing clients. ECAV has designed and delivered a targeted multi-part online training program on working with adult survivors of child sexual abuse and responding to complex trauma, with a specific focus on culturally safe and appropriate support for Aboriginal survivors, their families and communities. An action research evaluation has been commissioned (2020-2022) and service co-design expertise procured to provide local implementation and evaluation support to the two pilot sites and to produce evidence to inform development of a state-wide specialist integrated service model that will be rolled out across local health districts from 2022-2023.

Co-design, community consultation and community development work has been modified across programs and in some cases delayed due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements and impacts of re-deployment of violence, abuse and neglect staff.

What is next?

A Sexual Assault Services and New Street Services Access Strategy for People with Disability will be further shaped and implemented under the guidance of the Co-Design Advisory Committee and in response to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. The Strategy will be implemented in NSW Health Sexual Assault Services and New Street Services led by the NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence Disability Portfolio Team. ECAV is establishing a Disability and Sexual Violence Standards Committee to guide implementation. The Committee will work alongside the recently established Co-Design Advisory Committee made up of people with lived experience expertise.

The AEG has provided advice on Aboriginal Action Plans being developed by all NSW Local Health Districts to support Aboriginal workforce expansion for Sexual Assault Services, with workforce funding to be allocated once plans are approved. A multi-disciplinary panel has reviewed and provided advice to districts on their Safe Wayz Implementation plans. Districts are responding to feedback and finalising their plans to enable workforce funding allocation. The Aboriginal Expert Group is also providing advice on the development of recruitment and workforce development tools.

Evidence produced through the adult supervisor pilot project will inform state-wide policy development and rollout of the new integrated service from 2022-2023. A component of the pilot project and action research evaluation is to provide evidence of, and practice guidance on, the increased risk and impacts of domestic and family violence for survivors of child sexual abuse and to identify service and support needs. A state-wide implementation network will be established to lead development of the policy and funding approach, and to undertake capacity building and service improvement initiatives to support the implementation of the new specialist integrated service model across diverse communities and service delivery contexts in NSW.

What difference will we make?

These initiatives responds to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about advocacy, therapeutic treatment and support for victim-survivors of child sexual abuse.

Progress on these initiatives is measured and reported through the NSW Government response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. For further information, please see public annual reports.

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