14 Aug 2017

New national network for sexual assault services

From Nine To Noon, 9:09 am on 14 August 2017

Sexual health workers are hoping a new support network will increase the number of sexual assault survivors accessing help.

A young woman stands in silhouette against a window.

Photo: 123RF

The Sexual Assault Assessment and Treatment Service network - or Saats-link - has just been launched after a two-year review of services.

It has been funded by police, ACC and the Health Ministry.

Saatslink clinical adviser Cathy Stephenson said the network's website made it much easier for people to work out where to go to for help in their region, immediately after an assault had happened.

Specialised clinics saw 1700 cases of sexual assault last year but there were many more people who needed help, she said.

"Less than 10 percent ... put their hand up for any kind of support."

Not all people would want to go to the police, but it was important sexual assault victims were able to access health care, counselling and other services as soon as possible.

"What happens now is unfortunately a little bit fragmented.

"Of course there's the police ... but for various reasons not every person will be comfortable [doing that]."

The wesbite could point people to the 18 clinics around the country that offer specialised sexual assault medical services, she said.

"It will also give you links so you can find the ACC [support] website."

The website also pointed users towards a series of videos released by police earlier this year that talk survivors through the process of pursuing a sexual assault through police and the justice system, Dr Stephenson said.