Sex case referrals too high, demand for more support
THE manager of the Women's Health Centre, Natasha Fee, will meet with the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth today to demand more support for victims of sexual assault.
A report released to service providers, including the centre, last week showed the Capricornia district (Gladstone and Rockhampton) had the highest number of referrals for sexual assaults for February in the region stretching from Mackay to the Sunshine Coast.
Sexual assault was in the top ten support requests, with domestic and family violence at the top.
So far this year, 52 victims of sexual violence have walked through the doors of the Gladstone Women's Health Centre. That's on top of the 105 people already known to the centre who come back regularly seeking help to deal with sexual assault.
"I don't think people understand the extent of what is actually happening here," she said.
"Or how hard it can be to come forward in a regional centre. People are afraid to speak out because they will be recognised and they don't want the whole town to know what they are going through."
She said campaigns against domestic violence, including the Terror At Home campaign being run by this paper, were making it easier for victims to talk.
But, she said, it was time to give that same level of attention to sexual violence.
"Where's the taskforce for sexual assault?
"We need to lift the veil of crimes against victims and make it easier for them to step forward."
Mrs Fee will ask the Minister for more funding to open the Women's Health Centre seven days a week, instead of four, and funding to send counsellors into other areas, including the Boyne Valley and Calliope.
"The nearest specialised sexual assault centre is in Rockhampton," she said.
"We need to set up face to face meetings for those people and we need a couple of counsellors who specialise and can be mobile."
The report was from the Crime Prevention Coordinator.