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The Canberra Times

Advocates urge funding for sexual assault reforms

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Chrystina Stanford and ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates are part of a group who have called on the territory government to fund sexual assault response and prevention reforms. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

A group of advocates for victim-survivors of sexual assault and service providers have banded together to call on the ACT government to fund sexual assault prevention and reform measures.

The calls for the funding of the reform come ahead of the ACT government's budget, due to be delivered in August.

The group is specifically calling for the territory government to fund recommendations from a landmark report, released late last year, which found that sexual assault victim-survivors in the ACT were often retraumatised through their experiences in the territory's justice system.

Among the recommendations were that the ACT government establish a consultation program with victim-survivors, better integration between response services and that reviews be undertaken of government-funded agencies that provide services to victim-survivors.

The group which have called for the recommendations include ACT Victims of Crimes Commissioner Heidi Yates, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT and the Women's Legal Centre ACT.

"We are calling on the ACT government to commit to action by funding the recommendations and actions provided in the report," the group said.

"As this report highlighted, sexual violence is a pervasive and unacceptable problem in the ACT and around Australia.

"Tackling sexual violence is complex and multi-faceted, but the recommendations from this report are comprehensive, providing a clear way forward, including towards culturally safe services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victim-survivors.

"The ACT government will soon be considering its forthcoming budget.

"Today we urge government to seize this opportunity for change, to draw on the report's recommendations, survivor testimonies and our decades of frontline experience to resource evidence-based prevention and survivor-centred responses to sexual violence."

Many of the groups which have called for the recommendations to be funded were involved in the drafting of the report, which was based on findings from working groups.