An article published in today’s edition of The Australian and the Herald Sun online, makes a number of incorrect assertions about the experience and preferences of victims of sexual offending and their families.
Each year, the Office of Public Prosecutions (the OPP) supports hundreds of victims of sexual offending, and their family members, as they navigate the criminal justice process. Many of those cases include support to a family where a person in their family is the victim of both sexual offending and homicide.
It has been the experience of the OPP that each victim and family member will hold their own personal view about whether or not they wish for the victim to be publicly identified as a victim of sexual offending.
Some victims of sexual offending do wish to be identified in the public domain and to speak about their experience. Other victims do not wish to be publicly identified, and where they have been identified in the media as a victim of sexual offending, this has caused them a great deal of distress. Enormous distress and re-traumatisation can occur, even in cases where a victim has not been specifically named, but the victim feels that there is sufficient published detail about the case that may lead to their identification.
Likewise, in cases involving sexual offending and homicide, some family members do wish for the victim to be identified as a victim of sexual offending. Other family members do not want this information in the public domain. Other family members do not want the information in the public domain until they have had an opportunity to speak to us and be informed in advance of the detail of that information. In some cases, not every member of a deceased’s family will be unanimous.
It is preferable that victims and their families make this decision, not the media. The default position must be to refrain from publishing until victims and their families have had an opportunity to consider their position, give their consent or advise the court of their position. Once there has been a publication in a digital forum, it is impossible to completely undo the damage.
For further information contact: Matthew Sadler 03 9603 2603