Volume 9 of the Final Report of the Royal Commission (RC) examines what the commission has learned about the advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment service needs of victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts, and outlines recommendations for improving service systems to better respond to those needs and assist survivors towards recovery.
There is a continuing need and demand for advocacy and support, and therapeutic treatment services. However there are barriers to help-seeking and effective service responses and it is noted that inadequate service responses can re-traumatise survivors of child sexual abuse. The Final Report seeks national leadership to reduce stigma, promote help-seeking and support good practice. To these ends, there are nine recommendations, many of which require additional Australian government, state or territorial government funding:
- Dedicated community support services.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing approaches.
- Support services for victims and survivors who are disabled.
- A legal advice and referral service for victims and survivors.
- A national website and helpline as a gateway to accessible advice and information on childhood sexual abuse.
- Existing sexual assault service gaps to be addressed.
- Primary Health Networks to facilitate joined up, collaborative care and support services.
- Government, state and territorial government agencies to ensure relevant policy frameworks and strategies recognise the needs of victims and survivors and the benefits of implementing trauma-informed approaches.
- A national centre to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, support help-seeking and guide best practice advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment.
Whilst some of these are jurisdiction specific many are likely to be similarly recommended by the IICSA and the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.
As ever the potential block on ensuring these recommendations are actioned will be the availability of government funding.
Written by Frank Hughes, partner at BLM