Allegations and case outcomes
This is not an exhaustive list of research in the area of family violence and sexual assault, merely a starting point. As the locations of web pages often change, many of these reports have been made available through this page to assist readers. Please note that these documents may not contain the latest version or any recent changes so it is recommended that researchers check the author's website for updates, supplements or amendments.
The Law and Sexual Offences Against Adults in Australia
The prosecution bears the burden of proving beyond reasonable doubt that the victim complainant was not consenting to sexual intercourse. In practice, this means that the legal starting point assumes that the victim complainant was consenting, which the prosecution needs to disprove in order to achieve a conviction. This has resulted in "unwarranted reliance on stereotyped views of what might amount to consensual sexual behaviour" which has tended to position real rape victims as those who fight back, who vigorously defend themselves, who are virginal or who are assaulted by strangers.
To Report or Not to Report: A Study of Victim/Survivors of Sexual Assault and Their Experiences of Making an Initial Report to t
K. Gilmore & L. Pittman. CASA House. 1993
The literature suggests that many variables may affect the victim/survivor's experience as she lodges a report with the police but identifies the response of the police to be the most potent.
Child Abuse and the Family Court 1998
Thea Brown, Margarita Frederico, Lesley Hewitt & Rosemary Sheehan. Australian Institute of Criminology. 1998
Child abuse allegations made in the Family Court were no more frequently false than abuse allegations made in other circumstances, with false allegation being found to be 9%.
What Lies Behind the Hidden Figure of Sexual Assault? 2003
Alexandra Neame and Melanie Heenan. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2003
The real extent to which women, children and men experience sexual assault remains difficult to estimate at a national level. While crime victimisation studies have helped to provide better estimates of the prevalence of certain crimes across population groups, including incidents that are unreported to police, the methods they adopt considerably reduce the visibility of particular groups of victims. For example, the National Crime and Safety Survey in Australia relies on written questionnaires that are restricted to people living in private residences, who are registered voters, who are English-speaking, and who are 15 years of age and over (ABS 2002).
The Law and Sexual Offences Against Adults in Australia 2005
Mary Heath. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2005
This paper outlines those laws of evidence that have had significant impacts upon procedures in sexual offence trials and on victim-complainants’ experiences in court. It provides an accessible introduction to the current status of the laws governing penetrative sexual offences in each Australian state and territory jurisdiction to allow sexual assault workers, counsellors and victim-complainants to understand more readily the relevant criminal law in their particular state.
Study of Reported Rapes in Victoria 2000-2003
Melanie Heenan, Suellen Murray. The Office of Women’s Policy, Department for Victorian Communities. 2006
This study is the first extensive analysis of police investigations into rape offences in Victoria in more than a decade. It analysed 850 rapes reported to Victoria Police over three years, from 2000 to 2003, using the Victoria Police Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) database. It examined rape investigations and the factors that appeared to influence the outcomes, especially where the complaint was withdrawn or the investigation did not proceed.
Judging rape: Public attitudes and sentencing
Haley Clark. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2007
This article discusses public attitudes towards sexual assault, sentencing, perceptions of seriousness and the influence of myths and stereotypes.
Sexual pressure and young people’s negotiation of consent
Anastasia Powell. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2007
This paper explores young women and men’s perceptions and experiences of negotiating sexual encounters in contemporary Victoria, Australia. The paper focuses particularly on the pressures and coercion which may not necessarily constitute non-consent under the criminal law, but which nonetheless call into question the level of “free agreement” in some young people’s intimate relationships.
Rape mythology and the criminal justice system: A pilot study of sexual assault sentencing in Victoria
Jessica Kennedy, Patricia Easteal and S. Caroline Taylor. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2009
By examining sexual assault sentencing and judicial comments from a sample of mostly 2008 judgments in Victoria, this article explores differences in sentencing, focusing on the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim.
Measuring sexual offender recidivism
Mary Stathopoulos. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2010
What recidivism rates can tell us depends on how the definition of this is operationalised. Notably, they cannot tell us about the hidden cases of sexual assault—that is, those do not come into contact with the justice system—and there is a question about whether rates in fact tell us about re-offending per se. They can, however, map the contact that an offender has with the justice system, providing information about points of contact and, together with other research, the surrounding circumstances in offenders’ lives that may have led to this re-contact
Attitudes regarding the perceived culpability of adolescent and adult victims of sexual assault
Bianca Klettke & Sophie Simonis. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 2011
Several reasons have been suggested as to why the conviction rates in sexual assault cases are so low. For example, sexual assault frequently takes place with few or no witnesses other than the victim and the offender and results in what is often referred to as “oath against oath” trials. There is often a lack of evidence beyond the victim’s
statement; research has shown that the presence of medical evidence in sexual assault cases perpetrated against children resulted in twice as many guilty pleas or convictions.