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More working groups to address sexual assault in Canberra

Following last month’s establishment of a working group to prevent and respond to sexual assault in Canberra, the ACT Government will set up three more working groups to focus on prevention, response, and law reform.

“The objective is to coordinate efforts across the community, the service sector, unions and stakeholders to develop an effective, systemic, evidence-based responses to sexual assault in the ACT,” said Yvette Berry, Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Women, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.

The Prevention working group will focus on driving systemic, cultural change across Canberra, particularly in schools, universities, CIT, and workplaces.

The Response working group will focus on service provision and police response, informed by victim survivor experience of accessing support, advocacy, and counselling.

The Law Reform working group will progress the parliamentary agreement commitment to reform consent laws and related sexual assault law reform.

These groups will report to an overarching Sexual Assault Response Steering Committee, made up of representatives from non-government organisations, unions, research bodies, the university sector, and government representatives, who will set priorities for future work and action by government.

Women make up 86.6% of victims of sexual assault in the ACT, Ms Berry said. An evidence-based approach that reflected victim-survivors’ lived experience, and which understood that the nature of sexual assault had changed over time and what supports existed, was needed.

Responsible Ministers, all political parties, the directors-general of all relevant ACT Public Service Directorates, the Chief of Police, and representatives from the non-government sector today committed to ending sexual assault.

“[Sexual assault] is an issue that affects everyone in our community,” Ms Berry said. “That’s why it’s so important to work closely across party lines and across government to address sexual assault and sexual violence in Canberra – the only jurisdiction in Australia to have made this shared commitment.

“Everyone in the Assembly and in government is committed to addressing this issue, and to listen carefully to local experts to understand what is already working well, where the gaps are, and where we need to invest and build new programs of work.”

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