NATIONAL discussions about sexual abuse have triggered an increase in calls to the region's Centre Against Sexual Assault.
But the service's head says work remains to be done to ensure people who make disclosures receive the appropriate response - and Australia's political leaders ought to be modelling a best practice approach.
Kate Wright's comments come after Attorney-General Christian Porter held an extraordinary press conference, vehemently denying historical sexual abuse allegations against him.
They also come after Australian of the Year Grace Tame spoke at the National Press Conference, calling for a consistent definition of consent and criticising the Prime Minister's response to an alleged assault against former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.
Ms Wright, the head of CASA Central Victoria, said the specialist service had seen an increase in calls following recent media coverage of high-profile assault disclosures, including that of Ms Higgins.
"We're expecting a continued increase, as people sometimes need time to process what might have happened to them and to reach out for support," Ms Wright said.
She said the events playing out at a national level were about more than the specific incidents of alleged abuse.
"This is about how we as a community - of families, friends, employers and community members - can ensure when someone does come forward they receive an informed and understanding response," Ms Wright said.
She said people were becoming more open to speaking about sexual assault when the incidents were removed from their daily lives.
"Many of the people we work with don't have the same response for when they try to talk to their family, their friends and the community," Ms Wright said.
"That's because, overall, as a nation and as a community, we are not very comfortable with talking about sexual assault."
She said it was important myths around sexual assault did not continue to be replicated as discussions about alleged incidents unfolded.
Myths included victim-blaming, victim shaming, disbelief and minimisation of a victim's experiences.
"What we've seen coming to play is politics taking over the process and the issue," Ms Wright said.
"We should be looking at parliament as being able to model the best practice response to sexual assault allegations in the workplace, and what we are clearly seeing is they are not adhering to the strategies, policy and framework they have implemented nationally."
She encouraged people who were considering making disclosures not to be put off by what they were seeing on the national stage, particularly following Mr Porter's press conference.
"It is a very public way to have allegations denied without the victim's voice being heard," Ms Wright said.
Addressing the National Press Conference, Australian of the Year Grace Tame raised the importance of talking about sexual assault.
Ms Wright echoed Ms Tame's comments, commending her for facilitating conversations and for her representation of people who had experienced sexual assault.
"We hope in our region people are willing to engage in finding out more about sexual assault and violence and the impact it has," she said.
Ms Wright also acknowledged how triggering such extensive media coverage and conversations about sexual assault could be.
She encouraged people who were being triggered to take a media break and to reach out to loved ones and support services like CASA if needed.
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