Crisis care units interim practice arrangements

Interim practice arrangements are for the provision of forensic medical examinations to victim/survivors of sexual assault in Crisis Care Units (CCUs) to minimise the risk of DNA contamination.

Why interim practice arrangements?

The provision of crisis services to victim/survivors of sexual assault frequently (but not always) involves a forensic medical examination. A recent case has led to the review and clarification of the requirements to minimise the risk of DNA contamination during forensic medical examinations.

This review was undertaken by an inter-agency working group with representation from the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Victoria Police, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM), the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service (VFPMS) and the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASAs).

When should the interim practice arrangements be implemented and who is affected?

It is recommended that some immediate steps are taken to minimise the risk of DNA contamination. This is likely to affect the practice of hospitals (or other organisations in which CCUs are located), forensic medical examiners, CASAs and police. The co-operation of all the above agencies and professional groups is sought.

The implementation of these Interim Practice Arrangements is the first immediate step in a more comprehensive improvement program for CCUs. There will also be parallel changes by police and prosecutors in relation to DNA evidence.

In the immediate short term

The interim practice arrangements (IPAs) to be implemented is marked in the footer on each page Interim Practice Arrangements for CCUs April 2010.

The IPAs relate specifically to circumstances in which the collection of forensic samples occurs.

  • Other services to adults, children and young people provided at crisis care units including counselling and advocacy, policing, medical responses and health care follow up should continue to be provided as previously. Under no circumstances should provision of crisis care responses be suspended in response to the Interim Practice Arrangements.

In the longer term

In the longer term, a range of initiatives are being undertaken to ensure that CCUs are suitable facilities for the provision of services to victim/survivors of sexual assault. The Government is developing an Integrated Framework to Improve the Crisis Response to Sexual Assault in Victoria. This will provide a single policy framework across health services, police, CASAs and forensic medical services to ensure that responses to sexual assault are integrated and victim-centred. Specific initiatives include:

  • The development of standards for the provision of forensic medical examinations;
  • The development of minimum requirements for CCUs,
  • The clarification and strengthening of governance arrangements for CCUs, and
  • Strengthening partnerships across agencies to improve and integrate the provision of the crisis response

Input and involvement from all relevant agencies will be sought on these projects in due course.