The NSW Police have teamed up with Chanel Contos, the woman leading the conversation around sexual assault in schools, to create a brand new way for individuals across the state to report their experiences with assault.
The new platform for sexual assault reporting has been titled Operation Vest, and it acts as a response to Contos’ petitioning and activism. At the time of writing, Contos has received around 5,000 testimonies of sexual assault from students across the country, and over 38,000 signatures on her petition asking for better sex education in schools.
Over 3,600 of these testimonies have been reviewed and displayed on Contos’ website, and you can read through every single one. It’s harrowing, disgusting and a huge wake-up call for schools that are not educating their young adults on ideas such as toxic masculinity, consent and appropriate sexual behaviour.
Operation Vest will allow victims of sexual assault to report their assault without launching a criminal investigation, which Contos and the NSW Police hope will encourage more people to come forward. OV allows for digital reporting, and keeps all testimonies on record for future use in case the alleged offender is reported again.
It is done through the NSW Police’s Sexual Assault Reporting Option (SARO), which is an alternative to formal complaints. In allowing people to report this way, individuals will no longer have to endure court proceedings or exposing their name in order to file their accounts.
And, reporting anonymously or otherwise may actually aid in another person’s case in the future, making sexual assault reporting crucial, but also less intimidating.
“We must acknowledge the courage it takes victims of sexual violence to come forward and tell their stories,” said Commander of the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Detective Superintendent Stacey Maloney.
“Re-telling your story means reliving your trauma, and NSW Police are committed to a framework that supports a victim’s pursuit for justice but also ensures they have access to services that provide the appropriate support.
“We want you to know that if you share your story with us, we will listen to you and if you decide to pursue legal action, immediately or anytime thereafter, we will stand by your side through that process.”
It is incredible to see Contos’ platform grow to a level that has impacted the nature of NSW sexual assault reporting. You bloody love to see it.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.Image: Instagram / @chanelc