Goulburn electorate MP Pru Goward called for the public to rally around sexual assault prevention in a Facebook status on Tuesday afternoon.
The post, which shared a link to the website of the Sexual Assault Strategy being developed by the NSW Government, requested that the public give “feedback on improving the efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual violence in NSW.”
The strategy itself will focus on improving the current system, both in terms of supporting victims of sexual assault and ensuring that perpetrators are held to account.
Toni Raey, who manages crisis housing services for the Rae Burgess Centre in Yass, believes that the strategy is necessary to combat what she says is “definitely a prominent issue and one that needs immediate addressing.”
“More support for individuals and families who are struggling would certainly form part of this,” Ms Raey said.
“Greater recognition of sexual assault trauma is also very important for victims in aiding their recovery.”
It is also highlighted within the strategy’s goals that increased education will play a significant role in reducing sexual assault.
According to the NSW Government website, the strategy will also emphasize “responding” to children and young people – categorised as being between 10-17 years of age – who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviour towards others.
It is unclear how the government intends to do so, however Ms Raey believes that it is essential to educate young members of the community and instill positive values in their formative years.
“Those early formative years are crucial as this is where children develop their values including healthy relationships.
“This is important in the forming of caring, respectful interactions that develop throughout early childhood into adulthood.”
According to a document released by the NSW Family and Community Services Department, 17.1 per cent of women nationwide indicated that they had experienced sexual assault since the age of 15.
The strategy is currently in the planning phase; it will not be rolled out until November this year.
Ms Goward believes community input is critical because “preventing sexual assault from occurring requires a whole of community approach.”
“The next phase of the strategy involves extensive public consultation. Information gathered from participant responses will be incorporated into the development of the strategy.”
For more information, go to www.women.nsw.gov.au.