Logan’s sexual violence crisis
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Logan’s sexual violence crisis

Logan sexual violence statistics have reached alarming heights as response and advocacy groups call for urgent funding.

The Centre Against Sexual Violence (CASV) in Logan Central has fielded calls and referrals from more than 2680 people impacted by sexual assault.

Ninety-four per cent of these victims were assaulted by someone they knew.

The centre’s manager, Aimee Prouse, said the figures were “significantly higher” than previous years, with the number of referrals tripling since 2020.

She said one of the greatest changes the centre recorded was the number of “recently reported” incidents.

Almost 50 per cent of referrals at the Logan centre occurred within three months of the assault – a 40 per cent increase since 2020.

The remaining 53 per cent were “historical incidents” that occurred three months or more prior to the referral.

“It used to be the opposite, with historical sexual assaults making up a lot of referrals,” Ms Prouse said.

“Women are getting to the point where they’ve had enough.

“They’re not willing to hide it anymore – they want help, and they want change, so they’re speaking out”.

Sexual assault survivor Michelle Parry said every time an assault was reported, it encouraged other women to “speak up”.

“The more we shine a spotlight on sexual violence, the more women are willing to come out and speak about it,” she said.

Ms Parry said increased education was crucial to empowering women.

“For me, because of my cultural backgrounds and because of the way society portrays women, when I was assaulted when I was 12, I thought it was my fault,” she said.

“Then it happened again when I was 16 and 18, and I honestly thought that because there were three different perpetrators and because there were three different incidents, it was my fault.

“I never actually had the thought that it was sexual violence, and consent wasn’t even something we thought about like we do now – it was never something that was discussed.”

Ms Parry said she felt guilt and shame as a result and didn’t realise she was a victim until hearing someone else speak about their experience.

“Growing up, women need to be supported, educated and told,” she said.

Ms Prouse agreed but said it couldn’t happen without core funding from the government.

“We do a lot of prevention education in the community, but it’s really limited because we’re just not funded for it, and that’s where the funding really needs to be,” she said.

“Our core funding hasn’t had an increase in 27 years.

“We get bits and pieces of temporary funding, which is amazing, but we can’t offer permanent positions to staff or expand our space, so we’re really limited.

“Instead of top up funding, which is just the band aid effect, we need a significant increase in core funding for counselling alongside prevention education for all ages – it needs to start at school.”

Ms Prouse said 27 per cent of victims were assaulted by partners or ex-partners; 17 per cent by fathers, step-fathers, uncles and grandfathers; 7 per cent by brothers, cousins and step-brothers; 40 per cent by family friends, work colleagues or other people they know; and 9 per cent by strangers and online dating.

“There’s a massive stigma that sexual assault is domestic violence,” she said.

“It definitely can be domestic violence, but it’s not all domestic violence.”

Young women, aged between 12 and 21, make up 38 per cent of sexual violence referrals at the centre.

This is a 15 per cent increase in just five years.

Almost one-third of these assaults were by a father, stepfather, grandfather or uncle; 13 per cent in relationships; and 38 per cent by other people known to them.

CASV currently has a six-month waitlist for counselling, and because of the recent referral spike, they’ve created a new intervention model.

“Because the level of referrals is so complex, a lot of our time is spent in a case management role – looking at homelessness, drug and alcohol use, mental health, and family and domestic violence – rather than a therapeutic role,” Ms Prouse said.

She said it was important for the community to believe victims and not judge them, and to teach consent.

Mayor Jon Raven said everyone in Logan had a role to play in “challenging the old ways of thinking that are early warning signs of someone thinking violence is acceptable”.

“A cultural shift is required in the broader community to call out language and behaviour that degrades or devalues people, especially women, because ultimately those attitudes need to be changed if we’re going to save lives from domestic, family and sexual violence,” Cr Raven said.

“While this is a national crisis so much bigger than our city, local government is the level of government closest to the people and we have a vital role to play.

“Our council wants to create a safer city for our residents.

“We know there is so much more to be done because we hear the call for change loud and clear.”

He said council was committed to educating the community and working with police to address sexual, domestic and family violence.

“As community leaders and one of the major employers in the city, council can set the standard for what individuals and businesses look to emulate,” Cr Raven said.

“And we will continue working with key partners to spread the message that domestic and family violence will not be tolerated, not now, not ever.”

 

 

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