Scoping the development of specialised and trauma-informed legal services for victims and survivors of sexual assault

Closed 7 May 2023

Opened 29 Mar 2023

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Every Australian deserves to live free from violence.

The Australian Government is committed to working with state and territory governments to improve the experiences of victims and survivors of sexual assault in the criminal justice systems across Australia. Victims and survivors continue to face barriers, and potential exposure to further trauma, when choosing to seek justice through the criminal justice system. These barriers to access justice are complex and unique to each individual.

In October 2022, the Australian Government provided $8.4 million in funding over 3 years (from 2023-24 to 2025-26) to pilot a legal services model in 3 locations across Australia. The aim of the pilot is to provide victims and survivors with greater access to specialised and trauma-informed legal services as they consider, enter and/or navigate the criminal justice system. The legal services will aim to support victims and survivors to participate more safely in the criminal justice system, guided by their own goals. This pilot provides an opportunity to explore new ways for the legal system to work and to achieve better access to justice and better justice outcomes.

The Attorney-General’s Department (the department) is undertaking a national consultation process to inform the development of the legal services model(s) and location of the 3 pilot sites. The discussion paper below provides additional context and background information to inform this consultation.

Why your views matter

There are many different ideas about how to make the legal system safer for victims and survivors. The department believes that people who have lived experience of sexual violence, and the services that support them through the justice process, are the experts on what needs to change.

In particular, we welcome submissions from victims and survivors of sexual violence, their advocates and supporters, people from population cohorts that are overrepresented in sexual assault statistics (overrepresented cohorts), governments and service providers to contribute to this national discussion. Overrepresented cohorts include:

  • First Nations peoples
  • people with disability
  • children and young people
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, brotherboy, sistergirl, or with other diverse identities (LGBTQIA+)
  • people from rural, regional and remote locations
  • people who have been convicted of crimes and been to prison
  • people who are employed in sex work
  • older people, especially those in residential aged-care settings.

The department acknowledges the many consultations, research and advocacy efforts that have preceded this process, and recognises the personal costs associated with making these contributions. To leverage these and minimise stakeholder fatigue, this consultation seeks views on what legal services model to pilot now. This will help develop more evidence to inform future actions. We are particularly interested in learning more about:

  • victims' and survivors’ specific legal needs when they contact, or are considering contact with, the criminal justice system
  • which barriers present the biggest challenges for victims and survivors in accessing justice 
  • what types of legal services best meet victims’ and survivors’ needs and expectations
  • gaps in the legal services currently available for victims and survivors that should be addressed as a priority.

Your submission will help to ensure the legal services pilot is designed in a way that is trauma-informed, victim and survivor-centric, culturally-safe and accessible for all victims and survivors.

The Australian Government is leading the consultation with support of The Healing Foundation. The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that provides a platform to amplify the voices and lived experiences of Stolen Generations survivors and their families, which promotes trauma-aware, healing-informed practice. The Australian Government is committed to working with The Healing Foundation, victims and survivors, and other people with lived experience, to ensure the design and delivery of the legal services pilot reflects the diverse experiences of all Australians.

Have your say

To make or upload a submission, click on ‘Make a submission’ below and navigate through the survey questions that are of interest to you, your advocacy group or your organisation. Alternatively, you can email your submission to You do not need to answer every question.

If you have any questions about this consultation process or would like to discuss your submission, please contact

Please note, the purpose of these consultations is to inform policy work. The consultation is not a way to seek help with your personal circumstances. The department does not investigate criminal matters or provide direct support services. If you need to report a crime, contact your local police on 131 444 or call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000. If you or someone else are in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

This consultation process includes discussion of potentially distressing content about sexual violence and related issues. If reading the discussion paper or thinking about these issues brings up any difficult feelings or memories for you, the following services may be of assistance (except where indicated, the phonelines below operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week):

  • 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service
  • Lifeline (13 11 14) National Crisis Support
  • 13YARN (13 92 76) Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Support
  • Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) – National crisis support  
  • Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) – National crisis support tailored for children and young people (aged 5 to 25)
  • MensLine Australia (1300 78 99 78) – National Crisis support for men
  • Blue Knot Foundation (1300 657 380) – National support with complex trauma
  • Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) – National crisis support for people experiencing difficult thoughts
  • QLife (1800 184 527) - LGBTI peer support and referral, 3pm – midnight
  • Headspace – Mental health and wellbeing support, online service, 9am – 1am (Melbourne time)

Non-English speakers can access these services through the Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) by calling 131 450.

Publishing submissions

The Attorney-General’s Department is collecting your personal information in this consultation process for the purpose of designing a legal services pilot to operate in 3 Australian locations.

Your participation in this consultation process is voluntary. You can submit your response under your name, the name of your organisation, or anonymously. Please do not include the names or identifying details of any other individual or family in your response.

We intend to publish responses at the conclusion of the consultation period, where we have received permission to do so. However, we reserve the right to leave unpublished any submission, or part of a submission, particularly those that provide identifying details. Your identifying information will not be published without your consent. There is a consent question in the survey to confirm whether you agree to your response being made public.

Information received in response to this discussion paper may also be shared with The Healing Foundation, who is assisting us with the consultation process. If you consent to your responses being made public (anonymously or in your name), they may also be referenced in reports prepared by the department or The Healing Foundation on the design and consultation process.

If you choose not to provide us with your personal information, we may be unable to contact you about the consultation. However, we will still consider your comments.


  • Government
  • Family
  • Criminal law