Herald Sun

Sex as­sault help cri­sis

Fewer call­backs due to lack of staff

- ELISSA DO­HERTY elissa.do­herty@news.com.au @Elis­saDo­herty

NEARLY half of calls to the state’s af­ter-hours sex­ual as­sault cri­sis num­ber are not an­swered, with one coun­sel­lor man­ning the phone.

The Royal Women’s Hos­pi­tal runs the Sex­ual As­sault Cri­sis Line and re­vealed more than 200 calls were missed in the past fi­nan­cial year, many from peo­ple abused by fam­ily mem­bers.

The hos­pi­tal re­vealed a re­source short­fall in a sub­mis­sion to the Royal Com­mis­sion into Fam­ily Vi­o­lence, which also pro­posed man­dat­ing hos­pi­tals to re­port on dis­clo­sures of do­mes­tic abuse.

CASA fo­rum spokes­woman Carolyn Worth said it could be de­mor­al­is­ing for women who fi­nally mus­tered the courage to call about abuse they had ei­ther ex­pe­ri­enced or wit­nessed.

“The con­cern is I don’t think they all do call back if they can’t get through,” she said. “They might go back to what­ever they do to sur­vive, whether it’s drink­ing too much or tak­ing some tablets.

“It’s re­ally quite dev­as­tat­ing for some peo­ple. They need two staff on, not just one.”

Other rec­om­men­da­tions raised with the royal com­mis­sion yesterday in­clude: IN­TER­VEN­TION or­ders to take other forms of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence like eco­nomic abuse into ac­count; ALL public ser­vants to be en­ti­tled to ded­i­cated “do­mes­tic vi­o­lence leave” and a state gov­ern­ment cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing other work­places to adopt it; COU­PLES be sep­a­rated by po­lice overnight af­ter an in­ci­dent if prac­ti­cal, or the per­pe­tra­tor ar­rested, even if the sit­u­a­tion has calmed, and; PO­LICE take the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences of fam­ily viol- ence into pri­mary schools in a bid to pre­vent a new gen­er­a­tion of of­fend­ers.

A high school teacher de­tailed in an anony­mous sub­mis­sion how their vi­o­lent nephew had curbed his be­hav­iour af­ter a home visit from po­lice, and sug­gested of­fi­cers run an­nual classes in year 7.

“I’ve seen po­lice come to our schools regularly to speak with stu­dents about how to be­have on public trans­porta­tion, what will hap­pen if they shoplift, and con­ver­sa­tions about other forms of petty crime,’’ the teacher wrote.

“What we must add is ed­u­ca­tion in schools re­gard­ing the def­i­ni­tion of and ef­fects caused by fam­ily vi­o­lence.”

Mean­while, the com­mis­sion heard yesterday women are stay­ing in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships be­cause they feared they would be des­ti­tute if they left.

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