• Loddon Herald

Option push on reporting

State Leader of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Stuart Grimley MP said he had likely Government approval for a motion that will be debated today that requires the Government to start consultation on an alternative, online sexual assault reporting option, tabling the outcomes of such engagement by 1 September this year.

Mr Grimley will be joined by a victim-survivor of sexual assault from Geelong, Mikaylah East, and the CEO of Child Safe Strategies, Debbie Boyse, at a press conference this morning to speak about the benefits (and their support) for an alternative reporting option for sexual assault in Victoria.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission’s 2021 report Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences stated that about 87% of people who experience sexual violence do not report it to the police.

The report recommended an alternative reporting option, but the Government have continued to not commit to its implementation, as recent as February through a Question Time response.

Other jurisdictions already have alternative reporting options including:

  • NSW which launched SARO (Sexual Assault Reporting Option) in 2012

  • QLD which uses ARO (Alternative Reporting Option, formerly ‘Project USA’; Unreported Sexual Assault)

There are also reporting options in the UK and America. Most police forces in Australia have the ability to report sexual assault without prosecuting, but not online.

Victoria had a reporting option (‘Sexual Assault Report Anonymously’; SARA), run by South Eastern CASA, but it was decommissioned in 2020 due to a lack of funding.

The alternative reporting option will allow for greater data collection including understanding of where sexual assault is happening the community and give victims agency over their experience. It may also increase connections to support services for victim-survivors.

Mr Grimley will today speak about the successes NSW’s SARO has experienced including:

  • Working with licensed venues to disrupt drink spiking reports; and

  • Adding victims to prosecutions by using patterns of behaviour collected in SARO reports.

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