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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.

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 has been established and is providing leadership in the ongoing maturation and 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.

NSW Health has published a Needs Assessment developed by the University of NSW and Flinders University that provides the evidence base to design and implement the access strategy. The NSW Health Education Centre Against Violence has begun the establishment of a Co-Design Advisory Committee (CDAC) to design and embed a co-design approach and framework to the NSW Health Sexual Assault Services & New Street Services Access Strategy for People with Disability.

An evaluation framework is being developed to track NSW Health’s progress in increasing access for people with disability. The Education Centre Against Violence has established a new Disability Portfolio Team to lead this work.

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. Mid North Coast is developing and trialling an Aboriginal-led integrated model of care and South Eastern Sydney are piloting an outreach, community development and partnership model. Action research and service co-design expertise has been engaged to provide implementation and evaluation support to the two pilot sites and to produce evidence to inform development of a state-wide service model that will be rolled out across local health districts from 2022-2023.

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.

The Aboriginal Expert Group will provide advice about whether districts have reached an adequate level of preparedness and cultural safety to receive Sexual Assault Service and Safe Wayz program workforce funding and additional workforce funding will be distributed accordingly. The Aboriginal Expert Group will continue their leadership and quality assurance role in supporting the districts to increase access to Sexual Assault Services for Aboriginal people and expand, support and retain an Aboriginal workforce.

Evidence produced through the 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?

This initiative 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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