'Just in case' rape kits to lessen burden on victims of sexual assault

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Reforms are underway to ensure Queenslanders impacted by sexual assault are supported including offering victims ‘just in case’ forensic exams and hiring more Forensic Nurse Examiners.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles welcomed the Auditor-General’s Forensic Services audit report released today and said all recommendations have been accepted by Queensland Health.

“Queensland Health has an important role to play in delivering forensic services and especially for victims of sexual assault,” Mr Miles said.

“That’s why earlier this year I announced nation leading reforms that put patients first.

“Under a new process being rolled out in July, victims of sexual assault will no longer have to make a complaint to police in order to receive a forensic exam. A rape kit can be conducted then stored for 12 months to give the victim time to consider if they wish to go ahead with a formal police complaint and investigation.

“Offering to perform a forensic medical examination without having to talk to police at that traumatic time enables victims to make an informed decision when they are mentally and emotionally ready to do so.

“Queensland Health considered practices in other jurisdictions, as well as a successful pilot undertaken in Townsville, to come up with the best possible process that respects the dignity and choices of sexual assault victims while also preserving their rights to justice.”

Mr Miles said training more health staff to be able to conduct forensic medical exams was also a priority.

“We have invested $1.39 million to increase training and education programs for doctors and nurses and aim to have medical professionals trained in forensic procedures in all public hospitals.

“An additional nursing position has also been created to support the reforms in each HHS and the roll of the training across the state.”

The reform work involves consultation with Hospital and Health Services and Queensland Police Service to update guidelines and directives to better support victims and increase access to services across the state.

“It is very important to me as Health Minister that the health system responds to sexual assault victims in a compassionate and respectful manner that ensures they get the help they need.”

The roll out of the training program will start from 1 July 2019, with updated guidelines and processes expected to be in place in the coming weeks.

The QAO report noted that Queensland Health was improving how it provides forensic medical examinations and recommended the department continue to deliver the reforms.

Queensland Health is also continuing collaborative work with the Queensland Police Service and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to address all other recommendations made in the Auditor-General’s Forensic Services audit.

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Steven Miles

 
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Queensland Health : Queensland Government :
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