This has been compiled with information received from Canberra Rape Crisis Centre training and their website.
In an emergency where your or another person’s safety is threatened, contact 000.
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
If you or someone you know needs help or advice, you can call the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre Line on (02) 6247 2525. This line is open 7am-11pm, 7 days a week. Outside of these hours, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Click here to go to the CRCC website.
CRCC counsellors are available full-time on the ANU campus – let CRCC know if you are an ANU student and they will direct you to the right places.
CRCC is a client-centred, trauma-informed and confidential counselling and support service. CRCC Counsellors are trained in providing support, crisis counselling and advocacy. CRCC can support you in making statements to the police and attending the FAMSAC service outlined below. CRCC also provides advocacy for clients in criminal justice proceedings, and referrals to other private services.
Specialist services under CRCC
SAMSSA – Service Assisting Male Survivors for Sexual Assault. SAMSSA provides counselling specifically for males 16 and over. They have both male and female counsellors trained in working with victims of trauma and working with men.
Nguru – A service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children, and men. Nguru provides culturally appropriate counselling and aims to help clients assess their circumstances and relationships, and to make choices, decisions and plans for the future.
The forensic and medical route
The Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Centre (FAMSAC) at Canberra Hospital provides sensitive and high quality medical follow-up for people who have experienced sexual assault. This is a 24 hour service. If needed, staff from CRCC can support and guide you through this process. The files at FAMSAC are kept separate from the main hospital and cases are only dealt with by doctors with special licenses. You can choose to complete the forensic or medical services, or do both:
- Medical attention: FAMSAC attend to medical issues such as injuries, aches, pains, and the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
- Forensic examination: FAMSAC are able to collect forensic evidence that can be used in police investigation. This can be collected 72 hours after the incident, and can be stored for up to 3 months whilst the person decides if they wish to engage in the criminal justice process. This evidence may include bodily fluids, injuries indicating restraint or force, bruising, scratch marks, etc.
It is encouraged to use this service as soon as reasonably possible, and forensic information is kept for 3 months. The patient has to give consent to take, hold, and dispose of their biological material.
It is important to note that sexual assault does not always leave evidence of trauma on the victim’s body, and the absence of injuries or forensic evidence does not mean an assault has not taken place.
The legal route
If you want to take legal action against your perpetrator, you can choose a few different options. You can make a report to the Police which may lead to a criminal trial, or apply for a Personal Protection Order if your safety is in danger. There is no statute of limitations in the ACT regarding sexual offences, which means that it does not matter how long ago a sexual assault took place, it can still be reported to police.
You can meet with Police to discuss the reporting process before making a decision. A CRCC counsellor can also attend to support you.
You have the option of making a formal or informal report. In an informal report, the incident is recorded by Police but the victim does not have to engage with any court proceedings, but can also make a formal report at a later date. A CRCC counsellor/advocate will be contacted to offer support to all victims of sexual assault before, during and after they make a statement, unless the victim prefers to make a statement without CRCC support. The police will compile a brief of evidence and they will liaise with the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a prosecution. Just because a case is not able to proceed it does not mean that people do not believe that you were sexually assaulted. Unfortunately there are many cases where there simply was not enough information to lead to a successful prosecution so the case cannot proceed.
There can be a substantial wait (one year or more) between the time of giving a statement and when criminal proceedings take place. Cases are often heard first in the Magistrates Court via a committal hearing. If the perpetrator pleads guilty before or after the committal hearing, they can be sentenced by the Magistrate without the case proceeding to trial.
If the defendant is found not guilty, this can be devastating for the victim and they may feel that they are not believed or that they are in some way guilty. It is important to know that if a defendant is acquitted, this does not mean the offences did not take place, it just means that the standard of evidence, ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, has not been reached.
If you are concerned that the person who assaulted you or someone they know may try to contact or harass you, you can apply for a Personal Protection Order or Domestic Violence Order through the Magistrates Court.