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Home News and media centre News Over 50 organisations team up to prevent sexual assault

Over 50 organisations team up to prevent sexual assault

More than 50 peak bodies and key sector stakeholders last week (Friday, 9 December) attended OPAN’s #ReadyToListen Town Hall, which was aimed at preventing the sexual assault of older people and people living with dementia.

A wide range of organisations were represented at the hybrid event, including crisis support services, family violence and sexual assault services, aged care providers, advocacy organisations, lawyers, academics, researchers, policy makers and police.

‘Over the past 18 months, #ReadyToListen has been building the skills and capacity of residential aged care service providers to better respond to, and prevent, sexual assault,’ OPAN CEO Craig Gear said.

‘But the responsibility does not simply rest with residential aged care service providers – we all have a role to play.’

Mr Gear said #ReadyToListen’s Charter of sexual rights and responsibilities, which was launched by project coordinator Dr Catherine Barrett, would be a useful tool.

‘It will help all of us to better identify the line between consensual sexual activity and sexual assault.’

OPAN hosted the #ReadyToListen Town Hall – in Melbourne and online – in conjunction with Celebrate Ageing Ltd, the Older Women’s Network NSW and Dementia Alliance International (DAI).

In a series of presentations, members of #ReadyToListen’s Sexual Assault and Dementia Special Interest Group (SAD-SIG) addressed the barriers to preventing sexual assault across aged care and home based settings and identified potential actions.

While Mr Gear welcomed the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s recent extension of the Serious Incident Response Scheme to include home care, he said more work needed to be done.

‘Prevention cannot simply focus on residential aged care – older people and people with dementia are also sexually assaulted in their own homes,’ dementia rights campaigner and #ReadyToListen Town Hall chair Kate Swaffer said.

‘By listening to the voices of people living with dementia, OPAN, and in particular the #ReadyToListen project, has created a safe and empowering space for us to identify strategies to prevent sexual assault and better support victim/survivors.’

‘The response to the Town Hall has been incredibly positive,’ Dr Barrett said.

‘Hearing the voices of people living with dementia and older women gave participants valuable insights into what needs to change and discussion of key issues identified a clear set of priorities.’

‘This meeting represents a turning point in our understanding that we need to take collective action – we all have responsibility to prevent sexual assault of older people and people living with dementia.’

View our #ReadyToListen page to read and download resources. 

1800RESPECT is the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. Call 1800 737 732

1800FULLSTOP Fullstop Australia  offer confidential counselling for people who have experienced sexual assault and for family members. Call 1800 385 578