Why do we need an alternative reporting system for sexual assault?

Sexual assault is a serious issue that is under reported to the police and criminal justice system. Estimates suggest only 15% of sexual assaults are ever reported to authorities. In light of increased public attention to this issue, there is growing pressure for police and governments to provide alternative reporting options for survivors.

Alternative and informal reporting mechanisms are becoming increasingly popular as a way for survivors to maintain control of their story, access therapeutic supports, and seek justice. However, designing a scheme that is fit for purpose and suitable for a diverse population requires careful consideration.

Our research team is dedicated to understanding the potentials and uses of alternative reporting mechanisms. We aim to provide research that will inform the development of a best-practice model. By working closely with survivors, government agencies and other stakeholders, we hope to create a reporting pathways that empowers survivors and improves responses to sexual assault.

What is our team working on?

We have just finished up a two year project with the Australian Institute of Criminology investigating the use, purpose, and potential of alternative reporting mechanisms in Australia. Our final report is due to be released in early 2023.

We are currently working with the Victorian Government who have contracted our team to provide expert advice on design considerations for an online reporting pathway for sexual violence in Victoria. As part of this, we are leading consultations with victim-survivors and other key stakeholders to inform recommendations for design.

Recent Media and Publications

The Conversation:
Online Article

Sexual assault: what can you do if you don’t want to make a formal report to police?

Policing and Society:
Research Article

Written-response interview protocols: an innovative approach to confidential reporting and victim interviewing in sexual assault investigations

Current Issues in Criminal Justice:
Research Article

Connecting survivors to therapeutic support and criminal justice through informal reporting options: an analysis of sexual violence reports made to a digital reporting tool in Australia

ABC NSW ‘Drive’ Interview

One of our chief investigators Dr Rachel Loney-Howes talks to Anna Moulder about the current processes of formal and informal reporting which are currently available to victim/survivors, and what a best-practice alternative reporting model might look like. This aired on ABC NSW Drive on 4th March 2021.