Sexual assault is a serious crime and an abuse of power.
If you have been affected by sexual assault, it can be difficult to know what to do and how to get help, but services are available to provide you with care, support and advice.
What is sexual assault?
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. It does not always include physical harm.
A sexual assault can happen as part of:
Threatening to sexually assault someone can be a crime.
Image-based abuse – the making of intimate images and videos and displaying them on the internet or sharing them via social media without a person’s permission or threatening to do so – can also be a crime.
Charges related to sexual assault
There are many different charges for sexual assault offences depending on:
- the nature of the assault (for example rape, indecent assault)
- if the person assaulted is a child
- if there is a family relationship between the accused person and the victim (incest).
You can learn more about how Victoria Police deals with sexual offences on their website.
Care and support across Victoria
Centres Against Sexual Assault
Across Victoria, you can access free 24 hour crisis care for sexual assault from the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA). You do not need to report the assault to police to get help.
Call: 1800 806 292
Open: 24 hours a day
CASA also offers the Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL), a free and confidential after hours emergency telephone service, available weeknights 5pm–9am and 24 hours a day on weekends and public holidays on 1800 806 292.
CASA can help with:
- counselling and support
- deciding whether you want to make a report to police
- making sure you have information about your rights and options and advocating for you
- assessing your safety and protection needs and helping you make a safety plan
- supporting family members, loved ones and carers
- helping you communicate with police, forensic and other medical and health personnel
- referrals to other community support services.
Victims of Crime Helpline
The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can also provide advice and support with:
- referrals to other services
- reporting sexual assault to police and other agencies
- applying for financial assistance
- advice on how to improve your personal safety.
Help to understand the justice process
The Victims of Crime Helpline can answer your questions about:
- the justice process and what to expect
- getting information about the court case
- laws protecting the privacy of victim-survivors and information for people who want to tell their story
- giving evidence as a witness and support that is available for you if you need to go to court
- preparing a Victim Impact Statement to tell the court how the crime affected you.
You can learn more about sexual assault and the justice process below.
Report sexual assault
A report of sexual assault can be made by phone or at any police station.
If anyone is in immediate danger or a crime is currently occurring, please call police on Triple Zero (000). You can also go to your local police station to report a crime.
If you make the initial report by phone, you will need to meet with police at a convenient time. You may wish to have a support person with you. This can be a family member or friend or a trusted professional like a counsellor.
If you go to a police station to report a sexual assault, you will be taken to a safe and private interview room. You will be given information that can help you decide whether you wish to make a formal report.
Mandatory reporting – protecting children from harm
In Victoria, police officers and other professionals such as medical practitioners, nurses and teachers, are legally required to report to child protection if they believe a child:
- has been or might be harmed because of physical or sexual abuse, and
- their parents or guardians have not protected them, are not able to protect them or are not likely to protect them.
This is called mandatory reporting.
All adults in the community have a responsibility to report child sexual abuse
Since 2014, there has been a law in Victoria called the failure to disclose offence. It means that you must report child sexual abuse if you:
- are an adult, and
- you come to a ‘reasonable belief’ that a sexual offence (sexual abuse) has been committed by an adult against a child under 16.
If this happens you must report your belief to the police, unless you have a reasonable excuse. If you do not, you may be charged with a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is three years imprisonment.
You can learn more about the failure to disclose offence on the Department of Justice and Community’s website.
Counselling and crisis support services
24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service offering a phone and an online chat service.
Mental health care plan – see your General Practitioner
If you need assistance, you can see a General Practitioner and discuss your situation. You may be eligible for a mental health care plan that will assist with the cost of counselling.
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) Legal Help service provides free general legal information over the phone and by chat online.
Victoria’s health and safety regulator and manager of Victoria’s workers compensation scheme (WorkCover). If the sexual assault happened while you were performing work duties, you may be entitled to make a claim.
Services for LGBTIQ+ people
Rainbow Door is a free specialist helpline providing information, support, and referral to all LGBTIQ+ Victorians, their friends and family.
Open: every day 10am to 5pm
Switchboard is a volunteer organisation which provides a free, confidential and anonymous telephone counselling, referral and information service for Victorian bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, intersex, queer and asexual (LGBTIQ+) people and their supporters.
Switchboard partners with QLife to provide a phone and webchat service.
Thorne Harbour Health
A community-controlled organisation providing health services for LGBTIQ+ people, including relationship counselling.
A specialist LGBTIQ+ family violence service to support LGBTIQ+ people and their families affected by family violence.
w/respect is a partnership of four LGBTIQ+ specialist organisations; queerspace (supported by drummond street services), Thorne Harbour Health, Switchboard and Transgender Victoria.
queerspace (supported by drummond street services)
queerspace provides a safe and supportive space to obtain information and access services aimed at improving the health and well-being of LGBTIQ+ people.
9am–5pm Monday to Friday
After hours counselling 5pm–11pm Wednesday, 10am–10pm Saturday and Sunday
Call: (03) 9663 6733
Transgender Victoria (TGV)
TGV is Victoria’s leading body for trans and gender diverse advocacy. Provides service and referrals for trans and gender diverse people, their partners, families and friends.