A MULTI-MILLION dollar centre aimed at supporting victims and investigating sexual assault is a step closer.
Plans for the multidisciplinary centre have been lodged with the City of Greater Bendigo and artist impressions released.
The property, on the corner of Bridge and Arnold streets, will feature several services to investigate offences and support victims after the offence, with dedicated services for abused children.
Police will have members of the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams on the site, which will also house the Centre Against Sexual Assault.
Child protection workers and specialist counsellors will also work from the two-storey building, which is expected to open early to mid next year.
Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum said the $8 million project, one of several in the state, would be positive.
“This is something that we have acknowledged as being a really unfortunate aspect of everyday life in a major regional city,” he said.
“As a government all we can do is give our respective agencies and the counselling sector the very best facilities with which to do their work.
“It’s a place where victims are treated – that process is extremely complex – and it’s also a place where evidence is gathered to hopefully lead to the arrest of perpetrators.
Similar centres are based in Frankston, Mildura and Geelong.
Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge said the centres delivered integrated support to victims.
“(They are) very successful in providing accessible information, counselling, crisis support, child protection and criminal investigation services for people and children who have experienced sexual assault and abuse,” she said.
Brendan Edwards of local investment company Semillon Glen said the project could employ up to 100 people.
“It’s a significant development for Bendigo,” he said.
“We’re hoping to have it finished early to mid next year.”
The site once housed Fletcher and Jones Smash Repairs and is now vacant.