Department of Health defends services after Dwellingup sexual assault

Colleen Warr said not enough support services are available in Dwellingup after she said a resident struggled to recieve treatment.
Colleen Warr said not enough support services are available in Dwellingup after she said a resident struggled to recieve treatment.

The West Australian Department of Health has defended the range of sexual assault support services available in the Peel region after a Dwellingup community leader said rural residents were suffering.

Dwellingup Community Compact committee member Colleen Warr said a local resident told her she had trouble receiving treatment after she was sexually assaulted in October 2018.

Ms Warr said the woman was told by a Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) provider she would have to travel to Subiaco or Bunbury to receive counselling and treatment.

"She was told her young child could not attend and she'd need to bring a support person with her," she said.

"This young lady didn't have any form of transport and couldn't make it even to Mandurah at that time.

"After a terrible crisis like this, someone should be able to come directly to the client."

Ms Warr said regional locations often lacked vital health services.

"We also have very limited mental health services in outlying areas," she said.

"All of them are in Mandurah and it is not easy to travel for some people - it's a real issue."

A North Metropolitan Health Service spokesman said the Peel Health Campus and any hospital with an emergency department can provide support and direction to someone who had been sexually assaulted.

"In addition to the SARC home base in Subiaco, sexual assault support service Allambee, located in the Peel Health Hub in Mandurah, provides counselling, education and support to residents of the Peel region extending to Waroona and Boddington," he said.

"SARC has an outreach counselling service in Rockingham, with a therapist available two days a week, and a service in Fremantle one day a week."

The spokesman said SARC staff can travel directly to patients at Peel Health Campus, but they did not travel to regional locations.

"The WA Country Health Service works with other relevant agencies to ensure patients receive medical, psycho-sexual and forensic care in a time-sensitive matter," he said.

The spokesman said patients were given the option to self-collect potential forensic evidence if staff were not available immediately and an appointment for a full forensic examination would be scheduled at the earliest opportunity.