SEX AS­SAULT CEN­TRE OPENS IN GEE­LONG:

New Gee­long po­lice cen­tre makes cases a higher pri­or­ity

Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - ERIN PEAR­SON erin.pear­[email protected]

GEE­LONG is now home to the state’s largest cen­tre for sex­ual as­sault and child abuse vic­tims.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Jack Blayney said the cen­tre, of­fi­cially opened yes­ter­day, would strengthen the force’s com­mit­ment to make sex­ual as­sault and child abuse in­ves­ti­ga­tions top pri­or­ity.

‘‘It’s some­thing that needed to be done . . . to re­duce the harm caused across the community,’’ Mr Blayney said.

‘It’s some­thing that needed to be done ... to re­duce the harm caused across the community’

– Vic­to­ria Po­lice As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner JACK BLAYNEY

‘‘Vic­to­ria Po­lice many years ago prob­a­bly treated those crime cat­e­gories with low pri­or­ity . . . and . . . didn’t give strong com­mit­ment to deal­ing with these.

‘‘We’re proud to have now em­braced the mes­sages and what we de­velop now will be the model for what’s opened across the state.

‘‘ The fu­ture for deal­ing with this scourge on the community is a lot brighter.’’

The State Gov­ern­ment al­lo­cated $1.7 mil­lion in cap­i­tal costs plus more than $3.6 mil­lion in an­nual oper­at­ing costs to run the cen­tre.

The cen­tre brings to­gether coun­selling, cri­sis sup­port, child pro­tec­tion and crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion ser­vices all un­der one roof.

Re­ported sex­ual of­fences, not in­clud­ing rape, rose 29.5 per cent in Gee­long last fi­nan­cial year.

On the Surf Coast, it in­creased 107.8 per cent.

More than 500 re­ports of fam­ily vi­o­lence were also made.

Community Ser­vices Min­is­ter Mary Wooldridge said the new ven­ture was the largest and lat­est in the state and would min­imise trauma on vic­tims and in­crease ev­i­dence col­lec­tion.

The cen­tre em­bod­ied what Gee­long needed — to keep chil­dren safe and hold per­pe­tra­tors to ac­count, Mrs Wooldridge said.

‘‘Gee­long showed a readi­ness, a strong ad­vo­cacy and when Gee­long ad­vo­cates it ad­vo­cates very well,’’ she said.

‘‘By bring­ing it to­gether in one space . . . we know the out­comes can be sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent.

‘‘We’re hold­ing per-pe­tra­tors to ac­count.’’

She said sim­i­lar cen­tres in Frankston and Mil­dura had proved suc­cess­ful, with cen­tres planned for Bendigo, the La­trobe Val­ley and an­other in Mel­bourne’s south­east.

Build­ings house rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Vic­to­ria Po­lice, the Depart­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices and the Bar­won Cen­tre Against Sex­ual As­sault.

‘‘It re­moves from the client the stress of re­peat­ing their story — it’s clearly a model that is work­ing,’’ Mrs Wooldridge said.

‘‘If we can keep chil­dren out of the child pro­tec­tion sys­tem it’s a much bet­ter out­come as well.’’

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