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Govt backs review of sexual abuse investigation complaints

The Victorian Government has welcomed the Ombudsman's move to investigate the handling of sexual assault cases by Government departments.  The investigation comes after a large number of complaints within the past 12 months.  The Department of Human Services, the Department of Education and Victoria Police will come under scrutiny.

Premier Steve Bracks says the investigation demonstrates the independence of the Ombudsman.  "He's investigating this because we gave the Ombudsman powers that mean he can," he said.   "Without reference to the Government, without reference to an agency who refers matters to him or any individual refers matters to him, he can initiate matters himself and that's exactly the powers we've given him in the new Act."

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon says she hopes the Ombudsman's inquiry will identify better procedures to handle sexual assault cases.  Commissioner Nixon says she has been concerned about the issue of how sexual assault cases are dealt with.  "I've been very strong about this issue of encouraging women and men who've been sexually abused to come forward and report those matters and we need to understand why matters aren't going before the court," she said.  "If this is a matter of corruption then clearly it will be dealt with, if it's a matter of system or law, then clearly that should be identified as well."

Commissioner Nixon says she hopes the inquiry will improve the way sexual assault cases are handled.  "We've actually reopened a number of investigations into sexual assault matters for quite a time now, and so that process will continue," she said.  "So you're really seeing three or four different processes go on here, that I hope in the end will either identify corruption issues, or they'll identify much better ways to deal with sexual assault in Victoria."

Source: ABC online


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