Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

High Withdrawals of Sexual Abuse Cases

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (19:14): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The Andrews government should be commended on the way it has tried to modernise Victoria’s justice system in order to achieve better outcomes for particular victims of crime, especially survivors of sexual abuse. Despite this there are a handful of worrying statistics which paint a bleak picture of how some victims of sexual abuse are treated within the judicial system. This is a significant problem in Victoria, and particularly the region which I represent, Western Victoria, where in 2016 Ballarat recorded 569 sexual offences and Greater Geelong 469. Of the 12 956 recorded sexual offences in Victoria, over 2000 remained unsolved as at January 2017. The report also noted that more than 20 per cent, or 2500 complaints, were withdrawn. Furthermore, I have discovered that of the 4416 rape cases recorded in 2016, over 2000 never made it to court for reasons such as the complaint being withdrawn or police not having enough evidence. This is nearly half of all complaints. In addition to these appalling statistics the figures also showed that of those victims who were indecently assaulted, which in the same year were 6331, again over 2000 also received no justice, having never gone to court. According to an ABC report published last week, in Victoria complaints withdrawn soared to one in four in 2018. I began to see the rise of the withdrawal of complaints firsthand working in the sex offences unit in Footscray. An alarming reason provided by victims for withdrawing their complaint was the huge burden placed on already fragile victims through lengthy court battles where they were often assaulted, questioned or believed their perpetrator would not receive a sentence worthy of the trauma of a criminal trial. This is on top of their physical and emotional scars. It is becoming increasingly evident that there is not currently an adequate framework to support victims of sexual assault when they are pursuing charges. Court support services have improved over the years; however, it is clear that more needs to be done with the judicial processes that further protect our victims. This will result in less withdrawals from victims. I think we all agree that we want greater justice served to those who commit these awful crimes. Given this, the action that I seek is for the police minister to outline in what circumstances victims of sexual crimes do not have to be involved in criminal proceedings after their statements have been given to police but may still want to have their cases heard.


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