Chapter 11
What change can improve the sexual violence support sector to better assist​
victims to engage with the justice system?


11.53In Part C we refer to the concept of “victims’ justice interests”.720 Part D of the Report is concerned with meeting victims’ support and service needs or interests as they arise in the immediate aftermath of sexual violence, in the period prior to any justice process being undertaken and after any justice process has been concluded. In our view, meeting victims’ support and service needs is essential to victim engagement with any justice process.

11.54The period prior to any justice process taking place is crucial as it provides an opportunity to place the victim in the strongest position possible before entering the justice system. As it currently stands victims often exit the criminal justice system with an enduring sense of injustice. For this reason it is important that victims receive the best possible assistance and support outside the justice system.

11.55The conclusion we have reached is that reform is needed and that this programme of reform should be led by government.721 As noted, despite several government departments/agencies currently working in the field of sexual violence, these departments have discrete areas of responsibility and tend to work in isolation. What is lacking is a lead government body focusing on the issues relating to sexual violence, which is mandated to coordinate other government agencies and departments with interests in the field and that has a strong relationship with the community service providers that make up the sexual violence support service sector. Our principal reform proposal is for the Government to establish a new entity to focus on sexual violence and this is the focus of our discussion in the next chapter.
720Kathleen Daly “Reconceptualizing sexual victimization and justice” in Inge Vanfraechem, Antony Pemberton and Felix Mukwiza Ndahinda (eds) Justice for Victims (Routledge, Abingdon, 2014) at 388.
721In addition to the needs of victims of sexual violence, we note increased calls for services to assist those demonstrating harmful sexual behaviours. Addressing the issues relating to this group of individuals is beyond the scope of this project, however we note that this presents another challenge for service providers and thus for government in the future: Ministry of Social Development, above n 697, at 5.