This report by the Ombudsman for New South Wales (NSW) assesses implementation of an interagency plan to respond to child sexual assault in Australian Aboriginal communities.
New South Wales' Interagency Plan to Tackle Child Sexual Assault in Aboriginal Communities is required as part of the Australian Territory's Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act 1993. This report is the fourth in a series of reports that have audited implementation of the plan. The report highlights the fact that while Aboriginal children account for 4 percent of all NSW children, they comprise 10 percent of all child sexual abuse victims, and between 2007 and 2011, Aboriginal children accounted for 23 percent of all sexual abuse reports, despite representing only 12 percent of the population. Highlights of the audit's findings include the following: the Interagency Plan has increased community attention on the issue of child sexual assault Aboriginal communities, leading to increased reporting and the development of positive initiatives to respond to the problem; implementation of reforms to improve the court process for child sexual assault victims; increase in the number of children receiving sexual assault counseling, despite a lack of increased funding; and effective use of courses and programs by the Education Centre Against Violence to improve the understanding of, and effective response to, child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities. The audit also found areas of the plan that need improvement. These areas include the need to improve the capture and use of data, improving efforts to build strong and safe communities, improving staffing capacity in high-need locations, facilitating cross-border exchange of information, and meeting the demand for counseling and improving access to forensic medical examinations for children. The report also discusses the 87 recommendations aimed at improving the NSW government's efforts to establish a State-wide approach to dealing with child sexual abuse. Tables and appendix
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