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Roundtable on Sexual Assault at Parliament House
Roundtable at Parliament House Canberra on Preventing
the Sexual Assault of Older Women
On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November 2019), AAG attended a Roundtable at Parliament House Canberra on Preventing the Sexual Assault of Older Women.
The roundtable was hosted by Rachel Siewert, Senator for Western Australia (Australian Greens Whip and Chair of Community Affairs References Committee). The roundtable was attended by around 25 politicians and stakeholders.
- Senator Rachel Siewert Welcomed attendees and provided an overview of the key issues.
- Professor Joseph Ibrahim, Head of Health Law and Ageing Research Unit, Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University, Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine. Provided an overview of the issues around under-reporting and what happens after a report is made.
- Dr Catherine Barrett, Director of OPAL Institute and 2019 AAG Glenda Powell Fellow provided an overview of the work she has been doing on preventing sexual assault of older women including:
- #In Her Shoes – A newly launched project documenting the responses to older women (and their families) who report sexual assault. Attendees were provided with a written account ‘Sandra’s Story’ about what happened when an older woman reported that she had been raped in residential aged care.
- #SheToo - A campaign to raise the importance of listening to older women, which was launched on International Women’s Day 2019 by 97-year-old Margarita Solis, the only woman in Australia to publicly share her story of sexual assault.
- An overview of 18 key facts drawn from her work and international evidence about the sexual assault of older women.
- Joint AAG and OPAL Institute policy paper launched in July 2019 called A Fair Future for Older Women who Experience Sexual Abuse; What Needs To Be Done.
- Proposal outlining a systematic process for change.
Older Women’s Network of New South Wales launched a petition calling for the Aged Care Royal Commission to investigate the issue of sexual abuse in aged care.
- SBS News filmed the roundtable and published an article about Sandra’s Story called ‘Was Mum Raped? A Daughter’s Please for Answers From Aged Care.’
Where to from here
After discussion about strategies, Senator Rachel Siewert summed up some of the ideas about where to from here, including:
- Getting sexual assault onto the agenda of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety as soon as possible
- Responding to the imminent report on the Serious Incident Reporting Scheme for Commonwealth Funded Residential Aged Care
- Getting sexual assault included in the National Plan to Respond to the Abuse of Older
- Developing a systematic process for change that includes education, prevention, responses and resources
- Identifying steps that could be taken immediately.