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Centre Against Sexual Assault (SW CASA)

The South Western Centre Against Sexual Assault provides a safe place for adults and children who have been impacted by sexual assault or family violence. Counselling can assist people recover and heal from these traumas. Counselling is free and a 24 hour service is available for people who have been recently sexually assaulted.

How to access this service

You can contact the Centre Against Sexual Assault
Business Hours – (03) 5564 4144 between 8.30am – 5pm to speak with the Duty Worker/ your counsellor
After Hours – phone the Statewide Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292 between 5.00pm – 8.30am.

We provide counselling sessions at –

  • Warrnambool – 279 Koroit St.
  • Portland – Oz Child Office, 4 Gawler St.
  • Heywood – Heywood Rural Health, 21-23 Barclay St.
  • Camperdown – Manifold Place, 140 Manifold St.
  • Other places as agreed that may be more suitable for you.

Refer a patient

Business Hours – phone (03) 5564 4144 between 8.30am and 5.00pm and ask to speak with the Duty Worker. The Duty Worker will complete a referral form with the information you provide and arrange to have further conversation with the person being referred, or their parent/carer if the referral is for a child or younger adolescent.

Referral letters can be mailed to the South Western Centre Against Sexual Assault (SWCASA), c/- South West Healthcare, Ryot St. Warrnambool and we will follow-up with the person being referred, or their parent/carer if the referral is for a child or younger adolescent.

Child Protection Services & agencies that provide foster care services for children and adolescents will be provided with a referral form to complete and fax back on (03) 5561 5116.

Health Professionals

South Western Centre Against Sexual Assault Services:

Crisis Care
A 24 hour response following a recent sexual assault or the first time a child or adolescent has told of a sexual assault against them. Crisis responses may involve medical services &/or Police if the client/parent wishes this to occur. Police must be involved if a forensic examination is wanted by the client.

Individual Counselling, Support & Advocacy
For adults, adolescents & children who have experienced sexual assault &/or family violence and their non-offending partners, parents or carers.
For adults who have experienced sexual abuse within an institution, including counselling under the Federal Redress Scheme.

Group Counselling
For adults & adolescents who have experienced sexual assault &/or family violence and their non-offending partners, parents or carers.
Some groups are delivered as part of a family violence therapeutic healing & recovery partnership program with other local agencies.

Assessment & treatment for children & adolescents with sexually harmful behaviours
For children & adolescents up to 17 years of age who have engaged in sexually harmful behaviours.

Patient information

  • What to bring

    You do not need to bring anything in particular to an appointment.

    We encourage you to bring a support person of your choice if you would like. A support person may be a family member, a trusted friend or a professional from another service.

  • After your appointment

    Your Counsellor will take time to make sure that you are feeling settled enough to finish the session before you leave.

    We recommend that you discuss the plans you have for the rest of the day with your Counsellor, as a routine and having some activities planned is usually helpful.

    Contact your Counsellor (03) 5561 1444 if you become distressed, concerned or worried after an appointment.

  • What is Sexual Assault?

    Sexual assault is an act of a sexual nature that is unwanted or intimidating; ranging from sexual harassment, being forced to watch pornography, coerced sexual activity or sexual assault by force. It is a very personal crime, and the impacts on the victims and their family and friends can be felt at many levels. Sexual assault is a violation of basic human rights and therefore is a crime against the individual and society.

  • Consent

    Consent for any sexual activity depends on a person’s ability to understand what the sexual act is, the implications of the sexual behaviour, and their ability to make an informed choice, without force, or coercion. Sexual assault occurs when someone commits a sexual act with or towards another person without their consent. Children do not have the ability to consent to any sexual act. A person cannot consent to sexual activity if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs and in some cases prescribed medication that impairs thinking and awareness.

  • Some facts about Sexual Assault

    A common perception is that most sexual assaults are committed by strangers in streets or parks. The majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim survivor and occur in places that are familiar or that seem non-threatening. These can be either in a private or public setting where people such as families, friends, colleagues and other groups of people considered non-threatening gather.

  • Speaking to our counsellors - what to expect

    • We believe those who contact us after experiencing sexual assault.
    • No one needs to talk about what happened if they don’t want to.
    • We’ll work together to find an approach to counselling that suits you.
    • We’ll help you to find ways of coping with what happened and how it might affect other parts of your life.
    • We can answer questions that can help you understand your experiences and options.
  • Confidentiality

    CASA takes confidentiality very seriously. At your first session, your Counsellor will explain in detail your rights to confidentiality and how we look after your information. Confidentiality does have its legal requirements and limitations and Counsellors are required to report suspected child abuse and neglect and if there is a significant risk of harm to yourself or someone else.

Frequently asked questions

  • How can I help a child who has told me they have been sexually assaulted?

    Child sex offenders keep children silent by making them feel responsible for the sexual abuse. Depending on the types of tricks or threats used to silence a child, the child may be feeling:

    • Worried they will not be believed.
    • Scared about getting the offending person into trouble.
    • Scared that they will get into trouble.
    • Guilty that they are to blame for the abuse.
    • Ashamed that they have been abused.
    • Angry that they have been abused and not protected.
    • Powerless to change their situation.
    • Confused about the consequences of telling.

    Show your care and concern:

    How we respond to children telling us about sexual abuse can be an important factor in how much they are affected by the abuse in the long term. The following actions by adults are known to be helpful for children in these situations:

    Do:

    • Stay calm and in control of your feelings.
    • Listen to the child. Let them tell you in their own words.
    • Tell the child you believe them.
    • Tell the child it is not their fault and that they are not responsible for their abuse.
    • Tell the child they did the right thing by telling you.
    • Let the child know what will happen next.
  • How can I tell if a friend or relative might be experiencing family violence?

    Examples of how people may tell you about family violence without completely telling you (“he” used in examples but family violence is not limited to males).

    • He doesn’t like it when…
    • He gets angry a lot…
    • He loses it…
    • He likes things a particular way or else…
    • He is in charge of the money.
    • He watches everything I spend and do.
    • We aren’t allowed to…
    • He won’t let me…
    • I often feel crazy when I try to talk to him about his behaviors and how they affect me and the kids.
    • He has a bad/short temper.
    • He is controlling.
    • He doesn’t like it when I do…
    • He wants things “just so”.
    • He doesn’t like it when the children…
    • I have to walk on eggshells…
    • He is hard on the kids.
    • He is a rough disciplinarian.
    • He punishes me with silence.
    • He hurts me sometimes but doesn’t mean to.
  • How can I help someone who has told me they are experiencing family violence?

    The most important thing you can do is to listen without judging, respect her decisions, and help her to find ways to become stronger and safer (“her” used in examples).

    • Listen to what she has to say.
    • Believe what she tells you. It will have taken a lot for her to talk to you. People are much more likely to cover up or downplay the abuse, rather than to make it up or exaggerate.
    • Tell her you think she has been brave in being able to talk about the abuse, and in being able to keep going despite the abuse.
    • Help to build her confidence in herself.
    • Help her to understand that the abuse is not her fault and that no-one deserves to be abused, no matter what they do.
    • Take the abuse seriously. Abuse can be damaging both physically and emotionally. Don’t underestimate the danger she may be in.
    • Help her to protect herself. You could say “I’m afraid of what he could do to you or the children” or “I’m worried that it will get worse”. Talk to her about how she thinks she could protect herself.
    • Offer practical assistance like minding the children for a while, cooking a meal for her, offering a safe place to stay, transport or to accompany her to court, etc.
    • Respect her right to make her own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them.
    • Maintain some level of regular contact with her. Having an opportunity to talk regularly to a supportive friend or relative can be very important.
    • Tell her about the services available. Remind her that if she calls a family violence service, she can just get support and information, they won’t pressure her to leave if she doesn’t want to.

Page last updated: 30 December 2020

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