A BOMBSHELL report out this morning from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a nation in the grips of a sexual abuse crisis.
The data, collected from police sources, has shown that reports of sexual offences have increased every year for the past 10 years.
Director of the national center for crime and justice statistics at the ABS, William Milne, said 2021 saw the highest number of sex offences recorded by police in the 29 years of ABS crime data.
Greater Bendigo is far from immune, with further data from the Crime Statistics Agency of Victoria showing a more than 28 per cent increase in reports of sexual offences in the past year.
There were 485 sexual offences reported in Greater Bendigo - up from 377 the previous year.
"There has been a 12 per cent increase in Victoria," Mr Milne said.
"This can be caused by an increase in the incidents or an increase in people wanting to come forward and feeling empowered to come forward."
Mr Milne said the data recorded the age of victims when they were assaulted and found that children were overwhelmingly targeted. Under 18s represented 61 per cent of victim-survivors nationally.
The findings are expected to be only the tip of the iceberg, with the ABS poised to report more data at the end of the year from the results of the personal safety survey.
"You have to look at the unreported ones as well," Mr Milne said.
The ABS surveyed more than 40,000 households to ask them about their personal experiences of violence.
"It gives us those estimates that are then used to inform the initiatives around reducing violence to women and children," Mr Milne said.
Chief statistician at the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency Fiona Dowsley said in 2021 that incidents of rape and sexual assault were significantly under-reported.
She released a study that showed a "high rate of drop off" in Victoria of criminal cases.
"Our study found most incidents reported to police never reach court, and for those that do it can take years for matters to be finalised," she said.
Only one in seven cases reported to police progressed through the legal system to be proven in court.
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The study found most alleged sexual offence incidents did not progress past police investigation, with police identifying an offender for half of incidents reported to them and charging an offender for one in four.
Crime Statistics Agency Chief Statistician Fiona Dowsley said the findings for this Victorian study were aligned with other studies on the attrition of sexual offences across the criminal justice system.
"This issue is not unique to Victoria: most studies of sexual offence attrition through the criminal justice system find less than one-fifth of incidents reported to police result in a conviction in court."
More to come.
If you or anyone you know is in need or crisis please call the National Sexual Assault,
Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or
Lifeline 131 114
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