Hon Rob Johnson JP MLA

Hon Rob Johnson JP MLA

Former Minister for Police; Road Safety

    Nurses ready to help sex assault victims in regional WA

    30/03/2011 12:00 AM

    A group of 11 nurses and midwives in Bunbury are the first in Western Australia to graduate from a forensic training course which will enable them to collect valuable samples from sex assault victims.


    Police Minister Rob Johnson, who was in Bunbury to present the certificates to the graduates, said the course was developed following the successful passage of amendments to the Criminal Investigation Act 2006.


    Mr Johnson said the legislation was vital as it closed a gap in services which previously existed in rural and regional Western Australia.


    “We previously had a situation where only doctors were authorised to conduct the majority of forensic procedures in cases of sexual assault, such as the ability to search the intimate areas of a victim’s body and remove, or take a sample of, any evidence,” he said.


    “However, victims of sexual assault in regional areas were disadvantaged if a doctor was unavailable and often meant they had to travel excessive distances in order to undergo a forensic examination to collect vital evidence.


    “This situation led to significant shortfalls in the quality of forensic evidence due to the long delays in transportation, which is vital for any successful prosecution of offenders in court.


    “Having trained nurses available on hand to carry out the internal forensic procedures will mean a better outcome for victims in country WA and will, in many instances, eliminate the potential loss of forensic evidence.”


    The Minister said WA Police had been working on a proposal to develop Regional Sex Assault Advisory Groups in major centres across the State, based on the metropolitan Sexual Assault Services Advisory Group (SASAG) model.


    The aim was to bring all agencies that provided services to victims of sexual assault or child abuse together on a regular basis to tackle local problems and issues, as well as roll out the forensic nurse training package in regional and remote areas.


    Two regional SASAGs have been formed in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Bunbury, with plans to open a further two in Geraldton and Albany. Discussions have also occurred in the Pilbara and Kimberley districts.


    Minister's office  - 9222 9211