Sexual assault is any behaviour of a sexual nature that makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated or threatened. It is sexual behaviour that someone has not agreed to, where another person uses physical or emotional force against them.
Sexual assault is a serious crime and an abuse of power. Sexual assault is never the fault or responsibility of the victim/survivor.
It doesn't matter how long ago the crime happened – you can still get help and support.
Your safety and protection
The first priority in sexual assault cases is the care of the victim/survivor. If you have experienced sexual assault and you feel unsafe, your local Centre Against Sexual Assault (external link) (CASA) can help you develop a safety plan.
You do not have to report the crime to police before you access support and/or counselling from CASA or another support service. CASA can provide you with the support you need to report the sexual assault to police, or provide you with the information you need to decide about whether you would like to report to police.
Reporting to police
A report of sexual assault can be made by phone or at any police station. If you do make the initial report by phone, you will need to meet with police at a time convenient to you. If you attend the police station to report a sexual assault, you will be taken to a safe and private interview room and be provided information that will help you decide whether you wish to make a formal report.
Your immediate health needs and safety are paramount. If you are reporting a sexual assault that has occurred some time ago police can refer you to your local sexual assault support service for counselling and support. If the assault occurred in the last 72 hours you will be offered a crisis care response including the option of having a forensic medical examination. Crisis care responses are coordinated by CASA.
What the police will do
When you report to police they should:
- ensure you that what you tell them is confidential
- ensure prompt medical attention
- consider your immediate health needs and take you to the nearest CASA or hospital
- refer you to a Crisis Care Unit (CCU) as soon as possible. This is a priority in cases of recent sexual assault and should occur within two hours of you contacting the police.
- take you to the nearest Emergency Department if you need medical attention for any injuries.
If you are admitted to a hospital, CASA will visit you in hospital to provide crisis care. Even if you decide that you do not need a medical examination, police can still consult with the nearest CASA and arrange for you to receive crisis care.
In cases of recent sexual assault of a child, police must make contact with the appropriate paediatric forensic medical service.
Connecting with support services
Police will provide you with referrals to specialist services for ongoing support and counselling. You can also contact these services yourself, without a referral.
Even if you do not want help at the time of the crime, you may later change your mind. You can find details of the services available to you in Get help.
The government funds several agencies throughout Victoria to provide specialist sexual assault support services to women, girls, boys and men who have been affected by sexual assault.
Services are tailored to your needs within the range of:
Counselling and support
Free and confidential counselling and support services to victim/survivors and your non-offending family member(s), significant other(s) and/or carer(s) and:
- twenty-four hour access to support and counselling at CASA
- client focused and directed services
- appropriate referral to other community support services.
Information and advocacy
Information and advocacy in relation to your legal, medical, health, well-being and social issues
Specialist assessments conducted by CASA with children to consider the possibility of the child having been subject or witness to sexual assault
Twenty-four hour crisis care support and intervention to victim/survivors of recent sexual assault provided by CASA at one of 19 Crisis Care Units around the state, or another location where determined by circumstances.
After hours including weekends and public holidays call: 1800 806 292.
This Sexual Assault Crisis Line will provide immediate access to support and information and coordinate any further face-to-face response in your region.
CASA will provide an immediate response to the emotional and physical safety, legal, and social needs of sexual assault victim/survivors. This response will include:
- ensuring the victim/survivor is supported and aware of their rights and options
- assessing the protection and safety needs of victim/survivors, including children and young people
- coordinating support and liaising with child protection, police, forensic and other medical and health personnel
- Secondary consultation and professional education and community development is also provided.
There is no fee for sexual assault services funded by the Victorian Government.
Mandatory reporting for children
If a child has suffered or is likely to suffer harm as a result of physical or sexual abuse, and the parents have not, or are unlikely to, protect them from that type of harm, police must notify the Department of Human Services and the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit of Victoria Police.
Protection at court
There are special arrangements in place for victim/survivors of sexual offences who are giving evidence at court. For information on the special arrangements in place for victim/survivors of sexual assault, including support provided by the Witness Assistance Service, visit Protection at court.