22 January 2015 | General Interest
A review conducted by James Cook University on responses to sexual abuse on Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders has resulted in a request for more effective and practical work in the area.
James Cook University’s Dr Janya McCalman led a team of analysts in a nation-wide evaluation and found no records of any intervention studies (studies in which theory had been applied to evaluate the effectiveness of programs or services).
“There have been a lot of high-level reviews and policies, but not intervention studies that involve talking to clients to find out the effectiveness of services provided,” Dr McCalman said.
The review was commissioned following the discovery that many Indigenous sexual abuse survivors were not using sexual assault counselling services. The resulting paper found that Indigenous Australians had a disproportionately high number of risk factors, which was reflected in a high prevalence of sexual assault. Female Aboriginal children in NSW, for example, were 2.5 times more likely to be at risk of sexual assault than non-Aboriginal children.
“What is needed are programs for people suffering sexual abuse based on the principles learned from available studies, and that these programs are properly evaluated. Without that, we are working in the dark and what we are doing is not evidence based,” Dr Calman said.