Anglicare failed to properly investigate sexual assault

·2-min read
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Anglicare failed to report the sexual assault of a woman in one of its respite facilities to police and did not investigate the attack properly, the Disability Royal Commission has found.

A scathing report published on Tuesday examines the case of Niky, a woman in her late 30s who lives with Smith-Magenis syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects behaviour, emotions and learning.

She was sexually assaulted by another person with a disability on September 11, 2018 at a respite centre run by Anglicare in southern Queensland that she attended three days a week.

The perpetrator was convicted later that year but Anglicare did not make the report to police or provide additional support for Niky or her parents, nor were they given written feedback following the incident.

Anglicare did not conduct a comprehensive internal investigation and failed to follow relevant procedures and policies in relation to mandatory reporting of a suspected crime to police, the report found.

"Anglicare's response to Niky's sexual assault lacked a trauma-informed approach and Anglicare failed to support Niky appropriately," it found.

"In doing so, Anglicare placed the burden of reporting the assault on Niky and her parents, demonstrating a lack of regard to trauma-informed practice."

The commission found "one staff meeting following disclosure of a sexual assault was insufficient to amount to an 'investigation' given the seriousness of the incident and the absence of Anglicare addressing risk factors".

The report recommended that Anglicare consult with Niky and her parents about any further redress, in addition to its written and verbal apologies.

It also urged Anglicare to immediately review its incident and complaint management and investigation systems to address gaps in its approach to responding to allegations of sexual violence and abuse.

Anglicare acknowledged its actions departed from standard practice and its own policies and procedures and accepted the six findings made by the commission.

It acknowledged "that it can and should do better going forward in order to ensure it is able to provide safe, high quality services".

"Anglicare apologises unreservedly to 'Niky' and her family."