Sexual assault help for Albany

JOSH NYMANAlbany Advertiser
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An award-winning course training regional midwives and nurses to examine sexual assault victims is set to be rolled out in Great Southern hospitals early next year.

The Sexual Assault Resource Centre’s forensic nurse training program was launched in Bunbury this year and has since been delivered to nurses and midwives in the South West, Mid West, Gascoyne and Goldfields regions.

The program was recognised at the 2011 WA Health Awards on November 30, where it won the excellence in service delivery award for improving services for victims and survivors of sexual assault in regional and remote WA.

WA Country Health Service’s Bunbury-based South West director of nursing, Marianne Slattery, said 12 nurses trained during the pilot program earlier this year were now training others how to examine and gather forensic samples from sex assault victims.

“It’s important we have appropriately trained people that can manage the situation in a timely manner and the patients don’t have to travel anywhere else,” she said.

“Previously the patients would have to travel up to Bunbury from some of the district sites, so now they don’t have to do that.”

South West nurses have already used their training to take forensic samples from patients alleged to be victims of sexual assault.

“Some patients can actually have preliminary sampling done, which didn’t happen previously,” Ms Slattery said.

Previously, doctors were required to examine victims and collect evidence that could be admissible in court.

Ms Slattery said having forensically trained nurses on hand was particularly beneficial at district hospital sites that didn’t have doctors on the premises overnight.

Formal training will begin at Albany Hospital next March, led by SARC’s expert medical officers in conjunction with local police.

The three-day intensive training course is open to nurses and midwives from all over the region.

Nurses and midwives who complete the course are considered qualified persons under amendments to WA’s Criminal Investigation Act, enabling them legally to collect swabs and other evidence for forensic purposes.

Plans to roll out the training in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions are also under way.

Got a story? Email josh.nyman@albanyadvertiser.com

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