Rais­ing aware­ness about sex­ual as­sault

Whitsunday Times - - WHITSUNDAY VIEWS -

WHIT­SUN­DAY taxis and marked po­lice cars will sport teal rib­bons through­out the month of Oc­to­ber, in recog­ni­tion of Sex­ual Vi­o­lence Aware­ness Month (SVAM).

SVAM is an an­nual cam­paign aimed at ed­u­cat­ing and en­cour­ag­ing com­mu­nity and in­di­vid­ual aware­ness of the is­sues of sex­ual vi­o­lence.

Whit­sun­day Po­lice act­ing sergeant Ian Ni­chols said sex­ual as­sault was some­times a prob­lem at drink­ing es­tab­lish­ments such as those on the main street of Air­lie Beach.

“But peo­ple of­ten don’t re­port it to po­lice due to the fact they don’t be­lieve it’s se­ri­ous enough,” he said.

How­ever, Act Sgt Ni­chols en­cour­aged the pub­lic to speak up.

“Any acts of sex­ual as­sault or sex­ual vi­o­lence will not be tol­er­ated by po­lice or the com­mu­nity,” he said.

Leah An­der­son, from Whit­sun- day Cri­sis and Coun­selling Ser­vices (WCCS) said SVAM was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant in the Whit­sun­days where sex­ual vi­o­lence was “so preva­lent”.

“It’s some­thing we see so much of,” she said

Mandy Coles, also from WCCS said while many cases in the area went un­re­ported to po­lice, sta­tis­tics pro­vided by Vic­tims As­sist showed the Whit­sun­day re­gion as the se­cond high­est in Aus­tralia for re­ports of sex­ual as­sault in 2010 – just be­hind the Gold Coast.

“And of­ten the per­pe­tra­tor is some­one the vic­tim knows and trusts,” she said.

Ms Coles said SVAM was about a com­mu­nity re­sponse and plac­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the of­fend­ers not the vic­tims.

“And that’s the mes­sage we re­ally need to get across to the com­mu­nity – to sup­port the vic­tim and not judge,” she said.

Teal rib­bons are just one as­pect of SVAM with a range of ac­tiv­i­ties and ini­tia­tives planned for the month, in­clud­ing a two-hour ‘Sup­port­ing Hands: In­tro­duc­tion to Child Sex­ual As­sault’ work­shop on Oc­to­ber 14. This free work­shop will be held at the Whit­sun­day Chris­tian Col­lege from 6-8pm and is open to all com­mu­nity mem­bers to at­tend.

For more in­for­ma­tion on SVAM or avail­able sup­port ser­vices, con­tact WCCS on 4946 2999 or the Whit­sun­day Po­lice Sta­tion on 4948 8888.

COM­MU­NITY AP­PROACH: Whit­sun­day Po­lice act­ing sergeant Ian Ni­chols, con­sta­ble Syrrell Howard, Whit­sun­day Neigh­bour­hood Cen­tre com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Ta­mara No­ble, Mackay/Whit­sun­day Taxis re­gional sales man­ager Mia Gu­denswa­ger and taxi owner Stu­art Boys (back) with Mandy Coles and Leah An­der­son from the Whit­sun­day Cri­sis and Coun­selling Ser­vice (front), are en­cour­ag­ing the com­mu­nity to get be­hind Sex­ual Vi­o­lence Aware­ness Month.

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