Advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment services (volume 9)

The Victorian Government continues work to improve how sexual assault service systems respond to the specific needs of individual victim survivors, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island victims and survivors. This work advances the Victorian Government’s goal to deliver an integrated and evidence-based advocacy, support and therapeutic support service to meet the needs of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Services for victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse

The Royal Commission emphasised that the most effective way to support victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse is to tailor supports to the needs of the individual. The Victorian Government funds 19 agencies across the state to provide sexual assault support services, as well as funding the Sexual Assault Crisis Line. Victoria’s sexual assault support services work with a victim or survivor to ensure the supports provided meet the specific needs of that individual. For example, a victim or survivor might receive specialist counselling for child sexual abuse, as well as help navigating their legal options and support while giving evidence in court.

The Victorian Government has strengthened the capacity of sexual assault support services to respond to an increase in demand for their services. The increase in demand is in part due to raised awareness of child sexual abuse as a result of the Royal Commission and recent high-profile sexual assault cases.

Dedicated support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors

The Royal Commission highlighted the need for culturally informed healing approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors. The Royal Commission recognised the intergenerational traumas resulting from colonisation and the Stolen Generations, and that western models of support may not be appropriate or effective. An Aboriginal community-led sexual assault support service model is being developed in Victoria. The model will use culturally safe healing approaches and be available to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims and survivors of sexual assault, including victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. The model is informed by the Nargneit Birrang Aboriginal Holistic Healing Framework for Family Violence, released by the Victorian Government on 20 December 2019, which includes the following design principles:

  • self-determination
  • safety
  • connection to culture, Country and community
  • recognising the effects of colonisation
  • trauma-informed healing
  • building resilience

In addition, the Victorian Government has contracted the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation to design, test and deliver a training package and practice tools to support all Aboriginal community sector workforces when working with victims and survivors of sexual assault. The development of the training and tools will be guided by an Aboriginal sexual assault support service working group, which includes Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal community members from across Victoria.

Trauma-informed delivery of mainstream services

The Royal Commission described the benefits of integrating a trauma-informed approach into all health and human services, not just specialist sexual assault services. The Royal Commission noted that if a service is trauma-informed, it will be safe, person-centred, and empowering for all service users, and will minimise the risk of re-traumatising victims and survivors.

The Victorian Government is committed to adopting a trauma-informed approach in the delivery of its health and human services. Work to identify policy frameworks or strategies that require a trauma-informed approach is ongoing. Some key Victorian policy and practice frameworks that include a trauma-informed approach are: