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News | Response to the Criminal Justice Committee Report

Response to the Criminal Justice Committee Report

We welcome the report today released by the Criminal Justice Committee and particularly the calls for urgency. Though the justice system is complex, and changes to these systems are slow, this should not be confused for the fact that there are solutions to the issues that we face.

Solutions – including implementation of the recommendations of Lady Dorrian’s review – require political will and resource, and this exactly is what survivors need and deserve.

The experiences shared by the survivors that we supported in November were powerful and distressing, and we are grateful to those who took part to advocate for change. The trauma of the sexual violence that the survivors had experienced was in many cases compounded by a system that too often at best is not responding appropriately to victims of sexual crimes and at worst is actively retraumatising. Their calls for urgent change should be heard.

Sexual offences require a specialist approach and system redesign. Though we are encouraged by the recommendations in the report that refer to communication and process – both areas that survivors are deeply impacted by – we cannot shy away from the bigger, structural elements that stand in the way of justice for so many survivors.

We were glad to see the recommendation of the expansion of the National Advocacy Project as the main resource that we have to mitigate the trauma inflicted upon survivors by the justice system. Survivors describe advocacy support as life-saving – and if survivors are to continue to be asked to engage with a system that too often does not uphold or protect their rights, nor serve any form of justice, then it is imperative that advocacy is resourced and able to be there for every survivor who wants it, at the point of need.

The pandemic has been devastating for so many, and it has exposed and deepened the cracks that already existed for survivors of rape and sexual assault seeking justice.

Seeking justice after sexual crimes will never be easy, but it categorically does not have to be this hard. There is no inevitability to the harms being inflicted by our justice system and we cannot accept them as such. We welcome this report and look forward to engaging with the action that it must result in.

The full report and recommendations can be read here.

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