This Sexual Assault Reporting System Would Let Survivors Tell Their Story Without Going To Court

A petition is pushing for a nation-wide perpetrator database and an anonymous report form.

Sexual Assault Reporting

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A new petition is pushing for nationwide use of a form-based sexual assault reporting system that would give survivors the option to avoid what can be a triggering criminal investigation process.

— Content warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault. —

Operation Vest is a database that helps “lessen the re-traumatisation amongst victims” and “raise the amount of known reports of sexual assault”, according to the petition. It also allows police to keep tabs on repeat offenders, using combined reports for evidence to prevent them hurting anyone else.

The initiative is used alongside the revamped Sexual Assault Reporting Options questionnaire, known as ‘SARO’, where sexual assault survivors can log a crime informally online, and offer as much information as they feel comfortable sharing, with the option for anonymity.

SARO can be filled out by a trusted figure, such as a loved one or psychologist, if the process is too confronting for the survivor to complete.

The combined forces give an option for people to share their experiences and report their perpetrator, without a court proceeding or official police report, if they choose.

Operation Vest has already been in place since March in NSW. The project was started by Chanel Contos, who shed a light on high school sexual assault and began a viral push for earlier sex and consent education in schools.

Four months on, Perth artist Leia Duffy wants to see Operation Vest and SARO introduced all across Australia.

“As soon as I saw it introduced in NSW, I knew it needed to be a nationwide database,” Duffy told Junkee.

The 22-year-old called on the House of Representatives to open up the options currently available for reporting sexual assault, citing her own case three years ago and explaining how an alternative to a formal report would’ve helped her.


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A post shared by Leia Duffy Art (@leia_duffy)

“As someone who went through the court process myself … I know how it is not a survivor-centric process and is incredibly daunting,” she said.

Duffy told Junkee that the support has been overwhelming so far, but is glad the petition is opening up conversations for about reporting options for survivors, and Australia’s dialogue around sexual assault.

“Through talking about and listening to survivor’s stories, we are able to make a change not only within communities, but at a government level too.”

You can sign the petition here.

If this has brought up any issues for you personally, here are some places you can get help:
1800 Respect
Sexual Assault Crisis Line
Beyond Blue

(Image credit: @leia_duffy)