Police push for late-night assault counselling


Frazer Ramsden

Laurel House team leader Kerinda Camilleri said the charity needs more resources to be able to employ after-hours counsellors

Sunshine Coast Police are trying to gain State Government funding for the sexual assault counselling charity Laurel House to have after-hours staff at crime scenes.

Criminal Investigation Branch Officer-in-Charge Daren Edwards said it would be helpful to have social workers available at night.

“Obviously not everything happens between 8am and 4pm,” Snr Sgt Edwards said.

“While the hospital has counsellors, they’re only there until 11 o’clock at night.

“Say we had an issue at two or three in the morning, we could call [a Laurel House counsellor] out to assist, because they can provide a great lot of assistance.”

Laurel House team leader Kerinda Camilleri said after-hours counsellors was something the charity was open to, but first they needed more resources.

“I see that as something that probably will happen, but I’m not sure when,” she said.

Snr Sgt Edwards said the Sunshine Coast Sexual Assault Network has discussed sourcing funding for Laurel House, but a timeframe has not been finalised.

Snr Sgt Edwards said on average there were two sexual assault incidents reported on the Sunshine Coast per week.

He said the community needed support centres like Laurel House because of those staggering figures.

“The victims wouldn’t have anything otherwise,” he said.

“Victims that haven’t got anywhere to go to seek that support go underground and then we don’t hear about their [sexual assault] reports.”

Snr Sgt Edwards said Laurel House provided many forms of assistance for sexual assault victims, including counselling, arranging accommodation and group programs.

He said support could even include a set of clothes for women because Police may need “to seize clothes for evidence”.

Ms Camilleri said the charity provided much-needed services.

“We are there to help individuals through their trauma,” she said.

“Providing them support in that process is very important.”