What is the Adult Survivors Program?

The Adult Survivors Program: integrated services for adult survivors of child sexual abuse with complex needs ('Adult Survivors Program') is a new, state-wide NSW Health program which aims to improve outcomes for adult survivors of child sexual abuse with complex mental health and drug and alcohol needs – wherever they engage with the health system. It aims to address the ongoing barriers that adult survivors face when trying to access integrated, trauma-specific, culturally safe health services.

NSW Health has committed $6.4 million p.a. ongoing funding to develop and implement the Adult Survivors Program. The program began as a three-year Pilot Project (2019-2022) and is being implemented in Local Health Districts across NSW from 1 July 2023 via a phased approach, with the program model and full staffing finalised in 2025.

What will the Adult Survivors Program provide?

From 2023-24, each Local Health District will establish a local Adult Survivors Program. This program will work with local partners in sexual assault, mental health, drug and alcohol, Aboriginal health and community support services to improve NSW Health responses to adult survivors.

The program will provide strategic capacity building, consultation and support to other health services to improve NSW Health's response to adult survivors with complex needs and some limited clinical services including specialist trauma counselling, outreach and/or integrated case management.

How can I get support from the Adult Survivors Program?

To access counselling and other sexual assault support services contact your local NSW Health Sexual Assault Service.

What is the evidence to support the Adult Survivors Program?

Research shows children and young people in Australia experience sexual assault and abuse at high rates. These experiences can have serious health impacts on children and young people, which often travels with survivors into adulthood. The connection between sexual assault, poor mental health, and substance use and dependence is clear, however the service responses to these issues are often fragmented.

Adult survivors' have advocated strongly for integrated health responses to child sexual abuse and its health impacts, including in their testimonies to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission recommended governments address service gaps by increasing funding for sexual assault services to provide advocacy, support, and specialist therapeutic treatment (Recommendation 9.6). The Adult Survivors Program has been developed in response to this recommendation.

The Adult Survivors Program has been informed by research about the best approaches to supporting adult survivors of child sexual abuse with complex needs. This includes:

Current as at: Friday 29 September 2023