Preventing youth sexual violence and abuse

Sexual violence and abuse has proved to be among the most difficult and confounding social problems of our time...A unique opportunity now exists to put Australia, and Queensland in particular, at the forefront of international efforts to understand and address these problems.

Professor Stephen Smallbone

The Queensland Government recognises every child’s right to feel safe and free from harm.

In 2012, the Queensland Government commissioned Griffith University to examine Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun.

The results of this examination highlighted evidence of youth sexual violence and abuse and the risks for the future.

As a result, the Queensland Government has committed to taking positive action focused on the prevention of youth sexual violence and abuse in Queensland.

This commitment is just one of many Queensland Government initiatives designed to better support children and families.

Preventing Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse report

In 2013, Griffith University’s findings were presented to the Government in the Preventing Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun: Establishing the scope, dimensions and dynamics of the problem report, otherwise known as ‘the Smallbone report’.

At the request of the researchers, the report was embargoed so as not to stigmatise the communities while a way forward was developed. In 2016, a redacted version of the report was released by the Queensland Government. The redactions cover information that may be personal, that would identify individuals and some statistics in the research that are low numbers in a small community, which although may not reasonably lead to the identification of individuals, may none the less constitute a risk.

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Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse Steering Committee

In response to the findings of the Smallbone report, the Queensland Government developed an action plan to ensure that all investment and initiatives to address youth sexual violence and abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun were undertaken in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

As part of the action plan, the Queensland Government established the Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse Steering Committee. The Chair of the Committee, the Honourable Mr Stanley Jones AO QC, was supported by Steering Committee members including heads of relevant state and federal government departments, key community representatives and a child safety advocate. The committee members were selected from across Queensland to provide a broad range of expertise and insight on the issue of youth sexual violence and abuse.

The Committee has produced two reports, with the first focusing on West Cairns and Aurukun, and the second examining youth sexual violence and abuse on a much broader scale and across all Queensland communities.

First report

The Government received the First Report by the Youth Sexual Violence and Abuse Steering Committee in September 2016. It details preliminary findings and provides recommendations to address barriers to the effective and efficient implementation and coordination of activities across all tiers of Government to address youth sexual violence and abuse in West Cairns and Aurukun.

The First Report made seven recommendations across three key themes: improve service effectiveness, raise awareness and resourcing.

Government response

The Government supported all seven recommendations and committed $1.2 million over three years from 2017-18 to continue the important work in West Cairns and Aurukun.

As part of this commitment, funding has been allocated to the Griffith Youth Forensic Service Neighbourhoods Project to deliver youth sexual violence and abuse prevention services in West Cairns and Aurukun.

Final Report

The Committee’s Final Report found that although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are over-represented as victims and offenders, youth sexual violence and abuse is a state-wide issue, affecting young people in urban, regional and remote communities and must be responded to accordingly.

In July 2018, the Queensland Government released the Final Report alongside a response outlining work to date and our approach to addressing all forms of sexual violence including youth sexual violence.

The Final Report and Queensland Government response are available on the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women’s website

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Supporting Families Changing Futures reform program

The Queensland Government is investing $406 million over 5 years to improving early intervention and prevention for children and families at risk through the Supporting Families Changing Futures reforms, including increasing Intensive Family Support services.

Through the Supporting Families Changing Futures reform program, government aims to:

reduce the number of children and young people in the child protection system

revitalise frontline services

refocus on learning, improving and taking responsibility for a better child protection system.

This will require a fundamental shift in the way government agencies, child safety professionals and community organisations work with vulnerable families, and with each other.

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Domestic and Family Violence

The Queensland Government has committed $49 million to implementing the recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever report on domestic and family violence including specific strategies to protect victims of domestic violence in Far North Queensland.

Read more about the Queensland Government's domestic and family violence prevention initiatives.

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