Sexual assault support services provide direct services for children, young people and adults who are either recent or past victims or survivors of sexual assault in the context of their family and other support systems.
The major components of this system are:
- crisis care services for adults
- paediatric forensic medical services for children and young people
- counselling, advocacy and support
- specialist consultation.
Crisis care services are provided to victims of sexual assault. Any adult who reports an acute sexual assault will be offered a forensic medical examination conducted at a crisis care unit at a centre against sexual assault (CASA). Other crisis care services for adults include counselling, advocacy and liaison with forensic medical officers, police and other medical staff. Further information about CASAs is available on the CASA Forum website.
The paediatric forensic medical services provide a 24 hour statewide medical service to children and young people (under 17 years) referred by child protection or Victoria Police with respect to alleged sexual abuse. Paediatric sexual assault services in the Melbourne metropolitan division are provided at two major hospitals – the Gatehouse Centre at the Royal Children's Hospital and South East CASA at the Monash Medical Centre. See Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service for further information.
Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) – RCH is the statewide medical and allied health service for all Victorian children and young people. All requests for forensic medical examinations to the RCH must be made to the Gatehouse Centre. The Gatehouse Centre for the assessment and treatment of child abuse operates a 24 hour multi-disciplinary response to suspected cases of child abuse. Paediatric/forensic examinations in cases of suspected sexual assault are always conducted via the Gatehouse Centre.
Monash Medical Centre, Child Protection Unit (MMC CPU) – provides paediatric/forensic medical examination in cases of suspect child abuse (physical and sexual) and neglect for children and young people residing south of the Yarra River. The unit is located in rooms with the emergency department of MMC.
Urgent assessments will be conducted in the emergency department. Non-urgent matters may be booked into the Child Protection Unit sessions for assessment.
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) provides sessional practitioners to RCH and MMC to conduct paediatric forensic medical examinations and provides training to paediatricians and general practitioners in rural regions to conduct forensic medical examinations. Paediatric sexual assault services (and to some extent adult services) in rural and provincial city regions depend upon the availability of a local forensically trained physician, and sometimes victims may be referred to city services.
Counselling, advocacy and support refers to a range of activities provided by sexual assault support services for adults, children and young people that includes counselling services ranging from counselling following a crisis to longer term therapeutic treatment, casework, advocacy, information provision, practical assistance and group work.
Specific counselling services for children and young people who have been sexually abused include the Gatehouse Centre at the Royal Children's Hospital, South East CASA at the Monash Medical Centre and therapeutic services through the Children’s Protection Society. Other Centres Against Sexual Assault may provide services to children. Liaison directly with those services is recommended.
Specialist Consultation refers to services provided to community agencies and professionals to assist them to provide appropriate responses to victims of sexual assault.
The target group for sexual assault support services varies depending on location, service philosophy and counsellor skills. Some CASAs provide services to adults, children and young people while others are restricted to adults and young people or only children. South East Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA) and Children's Protection Society provide services to victims and young people with sexually abusive behaviour.
See this list on the department’s website for details of services provided by Victorian CASAs.
The Children’s Protection Society provides specialist intensive therapeutic services to:
- children and young people up to 18 years of age who have been sexually abused and are residing in North division
- children under 10 years of age who have displayed problematic sexualised behaviour
- young people between 10-17 years of age who have engaged in sexually abusive behaviour (the sexually abusive behaviour must have been reported to police prior to acceptance to the program).
The Children’s Protection Society also encompasses services to parents or caregivers of children and young people who attend the program.
MAPPS is an intensive group treatment program for adolescent males who have been found guilty of a sexual offence. All MAPPS clients are on court orders supervised by Department of Justice and Community Safety.
The department funds sexually abusive behaviour treatment services (SABTS) across the state to deliver the following programs:
- a voluntary therapeutic treatment service for children and young people up to 18 years who have engaged in problem sexual behaviour or sexually abusive behaviour
- a statutory therapeutic treatment service for young people aged 10-18 years pursuant to a therapeutic treatment order.
Three programs across the state also provide a voluntary treatment service for children aged 10-18 years. A list of current SABTS can be found in Sexual abuse behaviour treatment service (SABTS) contacts.