THE number of sexual assaults reported in the Greater Bendigo region increased by almost 200 during the past year.
Sexual assaults have consistently increased since 2015, but the largest jump was during the past 12 months.
Annual data released by the Crime Statistics Agency shows there were 485 recorded sexual offences in the Greater Bendigo region in the year to March, 2018, compared to 304 recorded in March, 2017 – a rise of 59 per cent.
Loddon Campaspe Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Kate Wright said while it was disappointing to see the rise in sexual offences, it was encouraging more people were reporting it.
“Greater awareness leads to greater reporting of sexual offences,” she said.
“The fact that sexual and family violence has been in the media for a sustained period of time gives people greater confidence to report as well as clear information on where to report and to seek support.”
Ms Wright said despite an increase in reported sexual assault, many crimes still went unreported.
She said one in five women and one in 20 men experienced sexual violence.
“The flipside is we still know sexual violence still very under-reported. It's great people are reporting it but it is still under-reported,” Ms Wright said.
“Data should be reinforcing what we know and people should be reporting in real time.”
Ms Wright said the community needed to “address the myths attached to sexual violence and the structural drivers of gendered violence’’.
“That (includes) continuing to challenge gender stereotypes, challenge men's control of decision making in public and private life, and not condoning violence against women and challenging the myth of victim blaming as a society,’’ she said.
“There has also been national campaigns around gendered violence. We need to continue working with children and young people around respectful and equal relationships.”
- Anyone who wants to seek support can contact LCCASA on 5441 0430 or phone the after hours Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.
- People wanting to report an assault should contact police.