Groups Say No to Sex Crimes

Article excerpt

COMMUNITY commitment toward eliminating sexual violence has seen health, police and community groups combine resources, ideas and funds to launch Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM) in October.

The government and non-government representatives, called PASA (People Against Sexual Assault), officially launched Sexual Violence Awareness Month at the Mayes Room in the Toowoomba Regional Council chambers in Ruthven Street with a free public morning tea.

Guest speaker for the event was Toowoomba Police superintendent Andy Morrow who spoke about the nature, prevalence and costs of sexual violence and what individuals and communities can do to draw the line and end the silence on sexual violence.

PASA chair Karen Fernie, who is the Sexual Assault Support Service co-ordinator at Toowoomba Hospital, said SVAM highlights the many impacts of sexual violence in the community.

"Sexual violence is a major social and health issue," she said.

"Sexual assault is a crime of power, control and violence which can have long-term negative health and social effects on the people who have experienced it.

"Approximately one in five women and one in 20 men will have experienced sexual violence at some stage in their lives since the age of 15.

"Also approximately one in three women and one in six men are abused before the age of 18.

"People may experience a range of feelings including shock, fear, guilt, shame, depression and an inability to trust others as a result of their sexual assault.

"Research estimates that 85 to 90 per cent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. …