Thursday, 31 July 2014

Making Rights Reality:Final Evaluation Report 2014

Making Rights Reality is a pilot project for sexual assault survivors with a cognitive impairment that has been a partnership between the Federation of Community Legal Services, SECASA and Springvale Monash Community Legal Service.  The project improved access to the criminal justice system and counselling and advocacy for people with a cognitive impairment or communication difficulties. We all know that the percentage of people sexually assaulted in childhood and as adults is high.  However, people with disabilities are at a much higher risk of all forms of violence and abuse than the general population.  This project was aimed at improving rates of reporting for people with a disability. It increased reporting of sexual assault for the people the project was aimed at.  More importantly it resulted in the SECASA workforce improving their level of skill for working with people with cognitive impairments and communication difficulties.  This and the publicity around the project led to a large increase in people with a disability accessing the service.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Child Sexual Abuse Material

Child sexual abuse material is more often known as child pornography which disguises what it actually is and what happens children and babies being sexually assaulted.I thought that everyone, well everyone I knew, understood the horror of child sexual abuse material.  This was until Sunday night when I was having dinner with a group of friends.  One of them, an academic who specializes in an area that requires empathy for vulnerable people, made a comment that surprised me whilst we were discussing the Rolf Harris court case and subsequent sentencing. The comment was that they did not understand why people were charged for looking at child pornography as it as a victimless crime. Of course it is not a victimless crime as the actual looking at the material creates the demand that then has children, including babies, sexually assaulted and in some cases in real time on peer-to-peer networks.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Judge Garry Neilson - Incest Comments

 Judge Garry Neilson made uninformed comments about a case in April this year of a 58 year old man who is charged with raping his younger sister in the family home in 1981.  The Judge reportedly told the court that just as gay sex was socially unacceptable and criminal in the 1950's and 1960's but was now accepted "a jury might find nothing untoward in the advance of a brother towards his sister once she had sexually matured, had sexual relationships with other men and was not 'available', not having (a) sexual partner."  It is hard to know what the Judge was thinking.  Sex between same sex partners, unless they are two brothers or sisters, is not the same at all and that would have the same problems as incest with opposite genders.  The power imbalance when there is an age difference is sufficient to make sex between a brother and sister unacceptable.  The opportunities for grooming in a family are unlimited.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Alleged Abuse by Scott Volkers

The Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse is looking at how sporting bodies and top prosecutors handled allegations of sexual assault by Scott Volkers from three former students who were swimming in his training squad at the Queensland Academy of Sport. Julie Gilbert spoke about her experience of alleged abuse on 7.30. She said that she felt "insulted" by a crown prosecutor who questioned her story when she made allegations against Mr Volkers. The prosecutor suggested that at 12 she would not have had breasts. Victims are disbelieved all the time. Organisations protect their assets all the time. When these two factors come together as they did with a high profile, highly regarded coach and a young injured swimmer the organisation clearly chose to protect their asset.  After the charges were dropped Mr Volkers was retained as head coach at the Queensland Academy as the organisation's then chief Alex Baumann was not concerned about Mr Volkers as he was not working directly with children.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Norma's Project - The Sexual Assault of Older Women

Norma's Project report discusses a hidden area of sexual assault that of women in their later years.  The report looks at the contexts in which this abuse occurs and at the attitudes to older women that keeps such assaults a secret. In 2012 there were 344 reports of alleged unlawful sexual contact in Australian aged-care facilities.  Given we already know that very few sexual assaults are reported and that the more vulnerable you are the more likely you are to be assault, this figure will be far lower than the actual number of assaults. The report recommends providing education and information for older women and their families, training for aged-care staff in preventing and responding to suspected sexual assaults and closer relationships between facilities and local CASAs.