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Report abuse if you’re a current or former student

Guidance on how to report sexual abuse in Victorian government schools, access counselling assistance and other supports, and how to make a claim for compensation.

If you have experienced any form of sexual abuse as a student at a Victorian government school, either recently or in the past, we encourage you to report it to us and the police. We can support you and take appropriate action.

Report sexual abuse

Report to the police

Reporting abuse can be challenging, and it may be difficult to talk about the experience. You may seek support from a specialist service like Sexual Assault Services Victoria or Blue Knot to assist you in making a report to police.

To report sexual abuse at a Victorian government school or if you are concerned that you or someone else is in danger or at risk of sexual abuse – you should contact these police services:

Report to the department

If you are a current or former student, we encourage you to report abuse to the department by phone on (03) 9057 4500 or by email to sexual.harm.response@education.vic.gov.au

If you are now an adult and the abuse happened a long time ago, you can still access support and take action at any time.

You may want to tell someone that the person who caused you harm may still be working with children. Or you may just want to make sure that the institution that caused you harm is aware of it.

You may want to talk to someone about your therapeutic options or the information on this page about redress and legal claims.

For information and resources on current reporting and legal obligations for schools about suspected child abuse at or outside of school, visit Your reporting and legal obligations.

Lodge a claim for compensation

We acknowledge that, for many survivors of sexual abuse, seeking compensation is one part of a long and painful recovery. We understand that many survivors find it hard to trust the institutions where the abuse happened. We acknowledge the potential for re-traumatisation in the litigation process.

For this reason, the department follows the Common Guiding Principles for child sexual abuse civil claims when responding to claims for compensation. The department also follows the Model Litigant Guidelines. These guidelines require the State to act with complete propriety, fairness and the highest professional standards. The department understands that the time taken to resolve a claim may be distressing for survivors. We will seek to minimise delays where possible.

If you would like to make a claim for compensation, we encourage you to seek independent legal advice. An independent lawyer can give you information about your options and legal rights. The following organisations may be able to help you:

To learn more about lodging a claim for compensation, including information for survivors who choose not to use lawyers, refer to:

Other avenues for compensation are detailed below.

National Redress Scheme

The National Redress Scheme is a Commonwealth scheme developed in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It provides support to people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse.

You can apply for the National Redress Scheme if:

  • you experienced sexual abuse when you were a child (under 18 years of age), and
  • the abuse happened before 1 July 2018, and
  • an institution was responsible for bringing you into contact with the person who abused you, and
  • you were born before 30 June 2010, and
  • at the time you apply, you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.

For more information, including how to access the scheme, visit National Redress Scheme.

Victims of Crime supports

Victorian government supports

For comprehensive information about the supports available to victims of crime, including the Victims Assistance Program, visit Victims of Crime Victoria.

This website provides information about supports available and contact details for the Victims of Crime Helpline (phone 1800 819 817 8 pm to 11 pm 7 days a week) who can help you to:

  • get advice about reporting a crime
  • find other services that can help you, including legal services, counselling services, and help with day-to-day needs
  • get information about the court process
  • get help applying for compensation and financial assistance.

Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal

The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal provides financial assistance to victims to help them recover from violent crimes, including sexual abuse.

The tribunal helps with costs that arise from being a victim of a violent crime, such as:

  • counselling
  • medical expenses
  • loss of earnings
  • other expenses that may help a victim recover.

For information about the tribunal, visit Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal.

The Financial Assistance Scheme is replacing the tribunal. The scheme is expected to open in 2024. Until then continue to make applications through the tribunal.

Access counselling assistance payments

Primary victims – current or former students

We can offer financial payments for counselling to current and former students who report they have been abused at a Victorian government school. These payments are known as counselling assistance payments. The payments help survivors of sexual abuse access private counselling services, without having to file legal proceedings or lodge a negligence claim.

You can apply for financial assistance for counselling. Email: sexual.harm.response@education.vic.gov.au

If you accept counselling assistance payments, it will not prevent you from seeking compensation or bringing a legal claim against the department.

Secondary victims – family members and current or former staff

The impact of institutional child sexual abuse is far-reaching. It can often also affect survivors’ families and their communities. For some survivors, restoring trust and building relationships is an important part of the process. This is why counselling assistance payments may be available for family members. If this would help you or your family, email sexual.harm.response@education.vic.gov.au

Wellbeing support for current or former staff

If you are a current or former Victorian government school staff member and you are feeling impacted by institutional child sexual abuse as a secondary victim, support may be available to you. For example, you may be feeling impacted if you have worked at the same school where institutional sexual abuse occurred.

Current staff

Current staff of Victorian government schools can access the department’s Employee Wellbeing Support Services, which provides free and confidential advice to proactively support the wellbeing of eligible department staff. Converge International is the department’s external provider of Employee Wellbeing Support Services.

Staff can make appointments to receive specialist support across 8 different service streams and 6 specialist helplines. Immediate family members aged 18 years and over can access the Family Assist stream. To access the services and make an appointment, call 1300 291 071 or book online via the Converge International portal, entering the organisational code mywellbeing.

Crisis support (emergency counselling) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via telephone. Staff who are in distress or require urgent support can call 1300 291 071 and select option 2. A client support officer will attend to the call immediately.  

Former staff

Former staff of a Victorian government school who need support can contact the department’s Sexual Harm Response Unit, which will arrange support through the Employee Wellbeing Support Service. Phone (03) 9057 4500 or email sexual.harm.response@education.vic.gov.au.

Apologies and acknowledgments

The department understands that acknowledging and apologising for the pain, suffering and trauma that survivors of child abuse have experienced, and ongoing impact on their lives, is an important part of the healing process.

Survivors of sexual abuse deserved care and protection from the institutions that harmed them. Instead, the people and institutions entrusted with their care failed them.

If you are a current student who is the victim of sexual abuse at a Victorian government school, the department will work with you and your parents/carers to deliver an acknowledgment and apology. The department will also ensure that you have information about options available to you, including: 

  • counselling support (including counselling assistance payments from the department)
  • external support agencies
  • ways to lodge a claim for compensation against the department.

We acknowledge that the healing process will be different for everyone. You don’t have to access these support options immediately, but it is important to have this information available for when you or your parents/carers are ready to access them.

Direct personal responses through the National Redress Scheme

The National Redress Scheme provides people who have experienced sexual abuse in Victorian government schools with access to remedies:

  • counselling
  • monetary payments 
  • direct personal responses, without the need to engage in litigation.

A direct personal response is an opportunity to receive an apology and acknowledgement from the department for the harm experienced as a child. This includes a description of what the department has done to stop abuse from happening to anyone else. It is also an opportunity for the department to hear about other sorts of redress that may help. Survivors may request:

  • a face-to-face meeting, either individually or in a group
  • a written letter
  • a public apology
  • other arrangements depending on their circumstances, including a symbolic gesture or public statement.

Apologies through the litigation process

The department makes an early assessment of all sexual abuse civil litigation claims and seeks to have them resolved as soon as possible. Once the department has reviewed and assessed the information in your claim, a department representative may contact you or your lawyer to offer further supports. They will also discuss a statement of apology and acknowledgement about the abuse and its impacts.

Feedback

We are committed to improving how we engage with you as survivors of child sexual abuse, and those who support you. Please email the Sexual Harm Response Unit at sexual.harm.response@education.vic.gov.au to provide your feedback or to request a phone call at a time that would best suit you.

Specialist support services

Specialist support services and helplines offer support for children and adults who have been victims of abuse. They can also provide advice for support options for family members.

Services specialising in crisis or counselling support relating to sexual assault and abuse

  • The Sexual Assault Crisis Line is a statewide, after-hours, confidential telephone counselling service for people who have experienced both past and recent sexual assault. Phone 1800 806 292.
  • There are specialist sexual assault services across Victoria. These services provide counselling and advocacy for all victim–survivors, as well as others impacted by sexual assault. You can find your local specialist sexual assault services using this interactive map on the Sexual Assault Services Victoria website
  • Blue Knot supports adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, as well as parents, partners, family and friends, and the professionals who work with them. Phone 1300 657 380.

Other support services offering crisis and counselling support

  • Lifeline is available for anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide. Phone 13 11 14, or text 0477 131 114 at night (6 pm to midnight).
  • Kids Help Line provides free, private and confidential counselling services for young people aged 5 to 25. They offer both telephone and online services. Phone 1800 551 800.
  • 13 YARN is a national crisis support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in crisis. They offer a culturally safe and confidential one-on-one over the phone yarning opportunity and support with a trained Lifeline Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter for mob who are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping. Phone 13YARN (13 92 76).
  • Rainbow Door is a free specialist LGBTIQ+ helpline. It provides information, support and referral to all LGBTIQ+ Victorians, their friends and family. Phone 1800 729 367, text 0480 017 246 or email support@rainbowdoor.org.au (10 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week).

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