Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Northern Territory’s first Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Framework.

Sexual violence refers to behaviours of a sexual nature and covers a spectrum of criminal and other behaviours committed against children and adults. This includes sexualised bullying, sexual harassment, problem sexual behaviours, unwanted kissing and sexual touching, sexual pressure and coercion, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault, including rape. Sexual violence can overlap and interact with domestic and family violence.

Sexual violence is a gendered crime. Women are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual violence, and sexual violence is almost exclusively (95 per cent) perpetrated by men. It is estimated that approximately one in five women have experienced sexual violence at some stage in their lives since the age of 15.

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of reported sexual assault of any Australian jurisdiction. Data suggests that while non-Aboriginal women make up the majority of victims of sexual violence in the Territory, Aboriginal women are significantly overrepresented. All estimates of the incidence of sexual violence are likely to understate the true prevalence, given the multiple personal, social and institutional barriers to disclosure and reporting.

This submissions provides recommendations to ensure the new framework is:

  • Adequately resourced, recognising the extent of need in the Territory to address the drivers or and harms caused by sexual violence.
  • Informed by the expertise and lived experience of women and men who have experienced sexual violence, and in particular, that Aboriginal people are engaged as lead partners in the development, monitoring and implementation of the Framework.
  • Acknowledges the responsibility of men in preventing sexual violence.
  • Include initiatives that educate young people about the attitudes and behaviours that can give rise to sexual violence, including specific strategies to engage male and female role models in promoting healthy and positive expressions of masculinity; alongside the delivery of protective behaviours education in all Northern Territory schools, including in remote communities.

The submission recommends that the Northern Territory Government and Commonwealth Government increase investment in responses to children and adults who have experienced sexual violence, prioritising the availability of trauma-informed, culturally-safe services in remote communities.

This includes through the provision of women’s safe houses, health and counselling services for adults who have experienced sexual abuse, counselling and support services for children and families who have experienced child abuse-related trauma, including sexual assault, and therapeutic programs for children exhibiting problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours.

This submission was developed alongside our submission to the Northern Territory Government’s first Gender Equality Framework, which we hope will provide an essential foundation for the primary prevention of domestic, family and sexual violence in all its forms.

Read our submission to the development of the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Framework here.