An online support group for adolescents who have been sexually abused will be trialled in NSW as an Australian first
The therapeutic support will be offered to 12 to 16-year-olds as part of an expansion of services offered by the NSW Rape Crisis Centre.
Minister for Women Linda Burney said the online support group would complement face-to-face counselling and other clinical care.
“This is the first time an online group like this has been used in Australia,” Ms Burney said in a statement.
“It targets young people with a tool they are familiar with – the internet – and will ensure effective and sensitive responses to their terrible trauma.
“Irrespective of where they live, they will have support and assistance from a peer support group and a counsellor.”
The online trial is one of three new services being offered by the NSW Rape Crisis Centre after a $616,000 funding boost from the NSW government.
The centre is also increasing telephone counselling hours and face-to-face counselling services in metropolitan and rural areas for those who have suffered childhood sexual assault.
Rape Crisis Centre executive director Karen Willis said the expansion of services will help address additional demand.
She said that in 2007-08 the centre received 7,029 calls, up from 2,927 received in 2004-05.
“We don’t think that relates to an increase in violence,” Ms Willis told reporters.
“All the indicators are that means more and more of those who experience sexual violence are making decisions to seek help in their recovery.
“We also know they are reporting to police … and that’s a really good thing.”
NSW Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt said the government would contribute an additional $80,030 to the Rape Crisis Centre to cover the establishment costs for the new services.