Victorian Government: Stop sexual assault of women in psychiatric care
  • Petitioned Mary Wooldridge
  • Responded

This petition was delivered to:

Victorian Minister for mental health
Mary Wooldridge
Premier of Victoria
Denis Napthine
Victorian Minister for Health
David Davis
Victorian Shadow Minister for Health
Gavin Jennings
See response

Victorian Government: Stop sexual assault of women in psychiatric care

    1. Hilary Bowman & Genevieve Stewart
    2. Petition by

      Hilary Bowman & Genevieve Stewart

      Melbourne, Australia

Like any patient, women with mental illness expect the hospital to be a safe place for healing. The experiences of women in Victoria's psychiatric institutions paint a distinctly darker picture. Instead of being sanctuaries, psychiatric hospitals across Victoria are rife with sexual abuse, harassment, and neglect.

A recent Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC) report shows 45% of women in Victorian psychiatric hospitals have been sexually assaulted and/or raped while in care. 67% have experienced sexual harassment. 85% say they feel unsafe. 

We call on the State Government of Victoria, Premier Denis Napthine and Mental Health Minister Mary Woolridge to implement the VMIAC report's recommendations without hesitation. This is a state of emergency.

The VMIAC report also shows that while 59% of women affected reported abuse to a nurse or doctor - showing courage in the face of apathy - in 85% of cases nothing further was discussed.

These numbers have deadly consequences. According to the ABC's 7.30 report, women report being raped, urinated on, verbally abused, and male patients entering their rooms without permission - while nurses and doctors stand by.

This is utterly unacceptable. If 45% of women in cancer wards were sexually assaulted, or 65% of women in a maternity ward reported sexual harassment, the reaction from the public and politicians would be swift and damning. The public health system would be immediately overhauled.

Yet, this is reality for women with psychiatric illnesses. These women are among society's most vulnerable, and for rates of abuse to be so high is shocking and unacceptable.

$4 million has been committed to health services across Victoria to create women-only wards. But this is not a real solution.

New courtyards alone won't fix this problem. Swipe cards into rooms alone won't fix this problem. The problem is of the culture within psychiatric care, and our neglect of people most prone to sexual abuse.

We call upon the State Government and the Opposition to immediately implement the reforms outlined in the VMIAC report. These reforms include mandatory reporting of sexual assault to the Chief Psychiatrist, a minimum of two nurses active on wards at all times, and referral to the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) for patients who have suffered abuse while in care.

It's time to stop this systemic abuse. Women with mental illnesses are like anyone else: when we're ill, we want to get better. But before we can fix ourselves, the system itself needs to be fixed.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 40,000 signatures
    2. Decision-maker Gavin Jennings responds:

      Gavin Jennings

      I join the thousands of Victorians who are calling on the Government to take immediate and appropriate action to protect women from sexual abuse. In particular, the concern expressed by Victorians today is a clear demonstration that our c...

    3. Reached 8,000 signatures



    May 14, 2013

    outpouring of concern to stop sexual assault of women in Victorian psychiatric care-lets support urgent action!

    Gavin Jennings


    May 14, 2013

    Victorian Government: Stop sexual assault of women in psychiatric care via @change

    Alan Brough

    Reasons for signing

    • sam Wallace AUSTRALIA
      • 5 months ago

      cus rape is bad lol

    • Tom Zeiser BOWRAL, AUSTRALIA
      • 6 months ago

      People in the care of others shouldn't suffer abuse.

    • Mareka Backus SUWANEE, GA
      • 6 months ago

      I feel strongly that woman having mental health issues should not now have to deal with sexual abuse. Please make this stop!

    • Tobias McCullagh BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA
      • 6 months ago

      everyone has a right to feeling safe no matter their mental state

    • Neville Diener AUSTRALIA
      • 6 months ago

      Men are here to protect and provide for women.


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