Topics:  community, crime, police, sexual assault, work, youth

Police urge youth to be brave and report sexual crimes

Young people who experience sexual assaults at work are not alone, say Gympie crime prevention officer Llew O’Brien (left), counsellor Sabine Schroeder and Insp Bruce McNab.
Young people who experience sexual assaults at work are not alone, say Gympie crime prevention officer Llew O’Brien (left), counsellor Sabine Schroeder and Insp Bruce McNab. Renee Pilcher

YOUNG Gympie people, including school leavers, are being urged to be brave when it comes to resisting and reporting unwanted sexual advances and assaults in their new work and study environments.

And Gympie police and business people are right behind the move, which also has the support of the sexual violence counselling service at Laurel Place, in Horseshoe Bend.

Gympie District Crime Prevention Co-ordinator Llew O'Brien said sexual assault in the workplace was a problem not often reported in Gympie.

"But we've had a spike recently," he said.

He and Insp Bruce McNab met at Gympie District Office with Laurel Place counsellor Sabine Schroeder, who agreed the problem needed publicity so that young people in difficult situations would not feel alone.

"At this time of year, a lot of young people are transitioning from a fairly closely regulated school environment to a new, less regulated, adult world of work or university study, where they may encounter unwanted sexual advances or, worse, sexual assaults," he said.

"Sexual assault is beyond harassment, which is any unwanted sexual advances. It's more than leering or inappropriate comments and is a criminal matter. Harassment can become a crime if it constitutes stalking".

Insp McNab said sexual assaults involved the normal definitions of assault, including striking, touching or making another person move to avoid unwanted touching.

Snr Cnst O'Brien said police were particularly concerned about vulnerable young females, although males could also be victims.

"We want to warn people that this is not acceptable and we want anyone who could be a victim to come forward," he said.

"Our message to parents is that this is a conversation they need to have with their offspring as they enter a world sometimes marred by sexual coercion, drink spiking and grooming.

"It is a misuse of power and authority," he said.


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