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.

On this website you can learn more about can learn more about:

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 (External link) to report a crime.

You can contact CASA on 1800 806 292 for crisis care following a sexual assault.

The Victims of Crime Helpline 1800 819 817 can provide information, advice and support.

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 (External link) 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) (External link). 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 806 292 can also provide advice and support with:

Help to understand the justice process

The Victims of Crime Helpline can answer your questions about:

You can learn more about sexual assault and 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 (External link) 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 (External link).

 

 What will happen if a sexual assault is reported?

What the police will do

When you report to police they should:

  • treat what you tell them as confidential
  • consider your immediate health needs and take you to the nearest CASA or hospital for care and treatment of any injuries
  • 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.

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.

Evidence that may be needed

As a victim or witness, you may be asked to give a detailed statement about what happened.

The police may also ask for your cooperation to collect evidence. This can include:

  • medical records and photographs of injuries you sustained
  • photographs and other evidence from the location the crime happened
  • clothing or other items you had with you that may help to show what happened.

If someone is charged

If an accused person is found by the police, they may be charged and the justice process will start.

This website explains the justice process in Victoria. You can learn about:

Protection at court

There are special arrangements in place for victim/survivors of sexual offences who are giving evidence at court.

You may:

  • give your evidence from somewhere other than the courtroom using closed-circuit television
  • give your evidence in court with a screen present – so that you can't see the accused person
  • have a person of your choice (and approved by the court) beside you to provide emotional support while you give your evidence.
 

Dealing with the media

Victims of sexual assault are protected from being named in the media.

If you have questions or concerns about media reporting, you can contact:

  • the police officer in charge of your investigation
  • CASA
  • The Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 818 817.

Counselling and crisis support services

Lifeline

24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: 13 11 14
Website: lifeline.org.au (External link)

1800RESPECT

The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service offering a phone and an online chat service.

Open: 24 hours, every day
Call: 1800 737 732
Website: 1800respect.org.au (External link)

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 (External link) that will assist with the cost of counselling.

Other services

Victorian Legal Aid

Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) Legal Help service provides free general legal information over the phone and by chat online.

Open: 8am–6pm, every day
Call: 1800 677 402
Website: legalaid.vic.gov.au (External link)

WorkSafe Victoria

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.

Open: 7.30am–6.30pm, Monday to Friday
Call: 1800 136 089
Website: worksafe.vic.gov.au (External link)