18 September 2023

The Minns Labor Government will more than double the number of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and permanently employ more medical and forensic specialists to boost frontline trauma services for victims of sexual assault across NSW.

The 2023-24 NSW Budget will commit almost $53 million over four years to permanently recruit 48 fulltime equivalent staff to fill critical gaps in healthcare services for victims of sexual assault.

These 48 new positions will ensure every local health district and health service across NSW, including in regional areas, has 24/7 crisis coverage for adult and child victims of sexual assault and can provide a specialist medical and forensic response within two hours of request.

The funding will be used to recruit:

  • 36 full-time equivalent Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
  • 5 full-time equivalent sexual assault and domestic violence-trained medical officers/staff specialists
  • 7 full time equivalent paediatric child protection leads.

This crucial funding allocation will see more integrated psychosocial, medical and forensic crisis coverage for adult and child victims of sexual assault as well as for victims of domestic and family violence and child physical abuse and neglect.

Sexual assault presentations to NSW Health are rising year on year, with 65,599 presentations in 2019/20 compared with 53,065 presentations in 2016/17.

Sexual assault presentations to NSW Police increased by 36 per cent in the 10 years to 2021, in contrast to downward trends in most other major crime categories.

Yet the state's Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and broader medical and forensic workforce is experiencing acute workforce shortages and attrition, with critical gaps in service delivery for victims of sexual assault, child physical abuse and neglect, and domestic and family violence across the state.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Ryan Park:

"People who experience sexual assault need a safe, timely and holistic public health response provided by specially trained counsellors, doctors and nurses working together.

"These safe, integrated and free sexual assault services help manage the impact of trauma, support recovery, and promote long-term health and wellbeing.

"These services also enable the collection of forensic evidence in a trauma-informed way with patient consent to support criminal investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators of sexual assault, reducing any delays and loss of evidence.

"Recruiting these additional 48 clinicians will boost crisis support services for victims, across all parts of NSW."

Quotes attributable to Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison:

"These nurses and clinicians provide crucial support and care to victims of sexual assault, making sure they're cared for in a safe, respectful and trauma-informed way.

"Boosting the number of these important specialists means we can offer 24/7 crisis support across all parts of NSW, providing care for these vulnerable patients when and where they need it."