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

Research has long identified the persistent underreporting of sexual assault to police and the criminal justice system, with reliable estimates suggesting only 15% of sexual assaults are ever reported. Recent public attention to the issue has highlighted widespread dissatisfaction with current responses, with police and governments under pressure to provide alternative reporting options for victim-survivors.  

Alternative and informal reporting mechanisms are becoming increasingly popular as a way for victim-survivors to maintain control of their story, be connected to therapeutic supports and fulfil their justice needs. However, there are many aspects of reporting that need to be taken into account when designing such a scheme to ensure it is fit for purpose and suitable across a diverse population. 

This research project seeks to analyse the uses and potentials of alternative reporting mechanisms, with the aim of providing initial research informing what a best-practice model might look like.   


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.