MASW Confirmation Seminar: The Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault

Title of study:

The Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault: Responding to Victim/Survivors with Intellectual Disability or Complex Communication Needs


Dagmar Jenkins, Master of Advanced Social Work (Research) Student
Department of Social Work, School of Health Sciences


Dr. David Rose
Associate Professor Louise Harms


An accumulating body of evidence demonstrates the high rates of sexual assault experienced by people with intellectual disabilities and/or complex communication needs. The impact of sexual assault amongst this group of victim/survivors is considered to be similar to the broader population, however there is little information available to counsellor advocates on what counselling and advocacy approaches are most helpful for this client group in their recovery after sexual assault.

In addition, there can be significant barriers for victim/survivors with disabilities in accessing services following an experience of sexual assault.

In Victoria, the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASAs) are funded by government to provide crisis support, counselling and advocacy to victim/survivors.  The CASA Peak Body, CASA Forum, has long had a commitment to improving services to ensure access for people with disabilities.

Through the use of a survey and focus groups the current study intends to explore:

(1) To what extent counsellor/advocates at the Victorian CASAs are providing a service to people with an intellectual disability or complex communication needs

(2) What kinds of advocacy and counselling strategies are most commonly used

(3) What interventions counsellor/advocates regard as most valuable

(4) What barriers counsellor/advocates see in providing a service to this client group of victim/survivors

The data arising from both the survey and focus groups will be used to add to the knowledge base regarding provision of counselling and advocacy services to victim/survivors with an intellectual disability or complex communication needs.

It is anticipated that the research will increase knowledge and hence assist counsellor advocates working with victim/survivors of sexual assault to provide a skilled and accessible service to people with disabilities.

Date and time:

Friday 6th May 2016 at 10am


University of Melbourne, Alan Gilbert-121 (Theatre 3)