What happens when you call or visit SARC

Calling SARC after a recent sexual assault or rape (in the past two weeks)

Following a sexual assault within the past two weeks, you can telephone SARC at any time of the day or night.

Call (08) 6458 1828 or 1800 199 888 (freecall from landlines)

 

During business hours, your call will be answered by a SARC counsellor. After 5pm, your call will be answered by an after-hours service that will ask your name, contact number and some basic details. A SARC counsellor will then call you back on the number you have provided. 

If you have experienced a sexual assault in the last two weeks, you may be invited to meet with a doctor and a counsellor at the SARC building in Subiaco (this includes in the evening). If you are injured (for example, if you have head injuries, you have lost consciousness or you are bleeding), you may be asked to go to the closest hospital Emergency Department. 

It’s your choice whether you report the sexual assault to the Police. You can use SARC services whether you choose to report to Police or not. SARC workers can assist you to report to Police if this is what you want. If you are undecided whether to involve the Police, you can talk this through with SARC workers.

Find out more about reporting to police and criminal proceedings (PDF)

Going to SARC after a recent sexual assault

After speaking to SARC on the telephone following a recent sexual assault, arrangements may be made for a doctor and counsellor to meet you at the SARC building in Subiaco, during the day or at night. You may like to bring a support person to this appointment.

During the appointment at SARC you will see a doctor and counsellor together. They will take you to a private room, explain SARC services and discuss confidentiality. The doctor will ask you some questions about what happened and any injuries or concerns you have. The details will be written down. The doctor may offer to collect forensic evidence (for example clothing, skin samples and photographs of bruising). This only happens if you would like it to. You’ll be able to talk through your options, so you can decide what you would like to happen. 

The counsellor will support you during any medical or forensic examinations done by the doctor. These examinations can take several hours, depending on the situation. The counsellor will make you feel as comfortable as possible, and during a long appointment, you will be offered drinks and sometimes a meal. There is a shower available to use at the end of the examination.

After the crisis appointment, you might be offered follow-up counselling. These counselling appointments aim to assist you to cope with the psychological impacts of sexual assault. It’s your choice to make a counselling appointment.

Calling SARC for crisis counselling (for emotional crisis from any unwanted sexual experience recently or in the past)

If you are in emotional crisis from an unwanted sexual experience (recently or in your past), contact SARC for crisis counselling over the phone between 8:30am and 11pm, any day of the week.

Call the crisis line on (08) 6458 1828 or freecall 1800 199 888 between 8:30am and 11pm.

 

After 4:30pm, your call will be answered by an after-hours service. They will ask your name, contact number and some basic details.

A counsellor will call you back on the number you have provided. The counsellor can provide telephone counselling and support until 11pm.

You don’t have to provide your full name and contact details if you don’t want to, but a telephone number is needed so the counsellor can contact you.

Calling SARC to request a counselling appointment (for any unwanted sexual experience recently or in the past)

To request a counselling appointment for any sexual assault / abuse experienced recently or in the past:

Call (08) 6458 1828 or freecall 1800 199 888 between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.

 

A friend, family member, carer or worker may make the first call to SARC however we’ll need to speak to you over the telephone before an appointment can be offered.

During business hours your call will be answered by a SARC counsellor who will ask your name, contact details and date of birth. They will also ask you some details about your situation to make sure that SARC is currently the most appropriate service for you. They will ask if you would prefer to have counselling at SARC in Subiaco or attend a location closer to your home.

Your safety is important us, so you will be asked the safest way for SARC to contact you. Please tell SARC if it’s not safe for you to be contacted on a specific phone number, at a certain time of the day or by post. We will abide by your wishes.

The information you provide will be part of a daily meeting held at SARC to assess whether we can best meet your needs. A SARC counsellor will call back within a few days to let you know the outcome of your counselling request. Unfortunately, if there’s a high demand for counselling at the time you make contact, there may be a waiting period before an appointment can be offered.

SARC counsellors are available to talk to clients on the SARC waiting list who are in emotional crisis.

Call the crisis line on (08) 6458 1828 or freecall 1800 199 888 between 8.30am and 11pm.

If a decision is made that the timing is not right for you to have trauma counselling or that SARC is not the best service to assist you, a SARC counsellor will do their best to recommend another service to meet your needs.

Going to SARC for counselling

SARC receptionAfter it has been decided that SARC is the right place for you, you’ll be sent some information by email or post (based on how you requested to be contacted during the first telephone conversation). You’ll be contacted by a counsellor when an appointment is available. Together you’ll set a day and time for your first appointment and the counsellor will let you know the address. With your permission, a reminder text will be sent the day before your appointment.

If you have any concerns, let your counsellor know before you begin or during your sessions. SARC can offer between 12 and 15 counselling sessions. There is no cost for SARC counselling.

When you arrive at SARC for your appointment, let the person at the front desk know your name before taking a seat in our waiting area. You may choose to bring a support person with you to the first appointment to sit with you. The counsellor will collect you from the waiting area at the time of your appointment and take you to a private room for counselling. 

A counselling session at SARC is usually 50 minutes to 1 hour in length. At the first session, the counsellor will get to know you better. During the sessions, they will focus on your feelings and reactions to your traumatic experience. You will not be forced to tell them details about the sexual assault / abuse or talk about anything you don’t want to talk about. Together you will work on ways to recover and heal from your experience.

For counselling to be useful, you’ll need to turn up to your sessions and develop enough trust to talk about your emotions. You will be encouraged to try different ways of thinking and coping.

 

Survivor and counsellor in a counselling session

Creche

If you have young children, it’s best to organise friends or family to care for them while you go to your appointment. There’s a creche at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco for children aged between two months and six years, who are free from illness. The creche is open to SARC clients from Monday to Friday between 8:05am and 3:45pm (they are closed between 12:15pm and 1pm). No appointment is necessary.

SARC counsellors treat clients with empathy, compassion, respect and have an understanding of how traumatic sexual experiences can impact survivors.

Inclusive services (for people under-25, men, Aboriginal people, those from the LGBTQIA+ community, people with disability and those from non-English speaking backgrounds)

Young people under-25

A diverse group of young adultsMany people seen at SARC are young people between the ages of 13 and 25 from a range of cultural backgrounds.

SARC has youth counsellors who understand the needs of young people and are aware they can be worried about other people finding out about their experiences.

There are clear confidentiality boundaries which will be explained when you first call the service. SARC doctors are required by law to report suspected child sexual abuse of people under the age of 18 years. This is called mandatory reporting. Counsellors may also report to authorities when they have reasonable suspicions that child sexual abuse has occurred. You can talk about this with a counsellor over the phone first to make a decision about what is best for you.

For people under 16 years, we encourage you to get permission from your parents to have counselling at SARC. Sometimes this may not be needed. We can talk about this with you over the phone when you call.

Have a read of the resources and information for people under-25.

Man with head in hands

 

For men

SARC provides services to men aged 13 years and over. Increasing numbers of men of all ages are contacting SARC about recent sexual assaults and about sexual abuse during their childhood. It can take a lot of courage for men to speak about these experiences. All clients at SARC can expect to be treated with dignity, respect and understanding.

Check out some resources and information for men.

 

For Aboriginal people

Young Aboriginal womanSexual assault and sexual abuse is a big problem for the Aboriginal community. It’s against the law and is not acceptable within the Aboriginal community – or any community.

At SARC we can help Aboriginal people who have experienced unwanted sexual contact or sexual behaviour, either recently or in the past.

We understand it can be frightening talking about these things and that you might be feeling shame. We’ll help you feel safe, listen to you and treat you with respect. Keeping your information private and confidential is very important.

SARC may be able to (depending on your situation) provide support for you when recovering from the experience. It doesn’t matter how long ago it happened. Depending on how busy the service is, we may also be able to provide support for family members.

We have an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer you can yarn with to find out more about SARC.

Call (08) 6458 1828 or freecall 1800 199 888 between 8.30am and 11pm.

Check out these resources and information for Aboriginal people.

 

People from the LGBTQIA+ community

Two people holding handsSexual violence is a traumatic experience for survivors and can be particularly difficult for someone who has experienced unfair treatment because of their gender or sexuality or for anyone who might be questioning their gender or sexuality.

There may be specific questions asked by LGBTQIA+ survivors of sexual violence, such as “Will people believe me and treat me with respect if I speak about the assault?” Many LGBTQIA+ survivors may be concerned about feeling judged or misunderstood and fear that they will be treated differently. They may be concerned that there are no services available for survivors of sexual assault if they identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or other identities.

SARC is an inclusive service available to a broad range of community members, including people of diverse sexuality and gender. All clients at SARC can expect to be treated with dignity, respect and understanding, including clients from LGBTQIA+ communities. SARC workers themselves are a diverse group and include people of diverse sexuality. One of SARC’s goals is to provide a quality service to all members of the community, regardless of gender, sexuality, ability, race or ethnicity.

 

People with disability

Disabled woman in a wheel chairAt SARC, we welcome people aged 13 and older of all abilities.

We recognise the communication styles of people with intellectual disability vary. SARC counsellors will attempt to adapt their communication style to suit the person’s individual communication style, needs and limitations.

We understand that family members and other support people often know the person very well and their opinions and observations will be taken seriously.

Confidentiality for people with intellectual disability who attend counselling can be complex. SARC counsellors work with clients to find an appropriate balance between the client’s right to privacy of personal information and the need to share information with others to promote understanding and safety or to work together to achieve the client’s goals (including family members, carers or other service providers).

Sometimes, sharing information or concerns may be needed, particularly if there’s a risk of further abuse. Confidentiality will be discussed at the first counselling session to make sure everyone has the same understanding.

The SARC office is accessible by wheelchair, with wide doors. There are female and unisex toilets available with braille signs on the doors. Auslan and other language interpreters are available on request. Please advise us in advance so we can organise someone to be available.

Several SARC counsellors have extensive experience working with people who live with disability.

Check out our easy-read resources and information.

 

People from non-English speaking backgrounds

SARC provides services to people from non-English speaking backgrounds. We can use interpreting services for phone calls and face-to-face crisis appointments. Short term follow-up can also be negotiated with an interpreter.

SARC counsellors are skilled in working with the impact of trauma and we are aware culturally sensitive issues may require specific attention or support for clients from multicultural, international and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) communities.

SARC can see clients who don’t hold a Medicare card and can also see clients no matter their visa status.

We have information sheets on sexual assault translated in a number of different languages that you can access.

Report to the Police (if you choose to)

Sexual assault is a crime and there’s no set timeframe in Western Australia for reporting. However, it’s best to report the assault as soon as possible (within three days is best). For forensic evidence to be gathered, it’s best not to shower or wash clothing.

To report a sexual assault to Police:

Call the Sex Assault Squad on (08) 9428 1600

Call a local Police station on 131 444

If you are unsure about going to the Police, you can call SARC if you live in Perth or Peel, or a local sexual assault support service if you live in a regional area, to discuss options for reporting the sexual assault.

Find out more about reporting to police and criminal proceedings (PDF).

Support for family, friends and support people

As well as providing support for sexual assault victims, where possible, SARC assists parents, partners, family members, support people and friends of those who have experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse.

Support from others can be a crucial part of healing for the victim. However, providing support to someone who has experienced sexual trauma, can be challenging. A Supporter’s Guide (PDF) is available to help you.

SARC provides support for family, friends and support people in a number of different ways including the following:

  • Providing information.
  • Providing advice about how to respond to the victim immediately after an assault has taken place.
  • Suggesting counselling options for the support person for their own individual therapy.
  • Linking the support person in with services in the community.
  • Discussion groups available for supporters and helping with referral.

Support people who attend SARC with the victim immediately after a sexual assault may have the opportunity to speak to a counsellor and / or doctor at this time to discuss counselling options for themselves. This may involve being referred to SARC counselling or contacting an external counselling service.

Support people who haven’t had any previous contact with SARC can speak to a counsellor on the phone.

Call (08) 6458 1828 or freecall 1800 199 888 between 8:30am and 11pm.

 

You may find the discussion provides you with what you need at the time or you may discuss ongoing counselling options – either at SARC or with an external counselling service. The referral process to SARC counselling can be explained to you during the call. 

Confidentiality is always maintained where possible.

Who works at SARC?

A team of doctors, nurses and counsellors work at SARC. Many of our doctors have post graduate qualifications in forensic medicine. Our counsellors all hold a degree in social work, psychology, counselling psychology or clinical psychology.

Everyone who works at SARC has a special interest in supporting people affected by sexual trauma and they undertake ongoing skills training in this area. Some clients are worried their situation and story will be too confronting and unusual for the counsellor or doctor to hear. However, our counsellors and doctors specialise in this area of work and have heard about experiences and effects of sexual trauma from hundreds of clients. They are available to support you.

The SARC team supports survivors of sexual trauma to recover and heal from their experiences.

Confidentiality at SARC

SARC provides a confidential service to people wherever possible and won’t disclose information to another person without your consent, unless there are concerns for your safety or someone else’s safety.

SARC usually requires the consent of a parent or a legal guardian for children under the age of 16 wanting to access counselling services. Special consideration can be made in situations where this might not be possible or not in the best interests of the child. If a young person is under 16 years, they don’t want their parents or guardian informed and they understand that counselling can be helpful but also confronting when talking about emotions and behaviours, then it may be possible to have counselling without parental consent.

There are some confidentiality exceptions. In some circumstances there are special legal requirements where SARC must disclose information. These include:

  • Subpoenas and court orders which require the release of information
  • Child abuse including sexual abuse to a child under the age of 18. Under mandatory reporting laws in WA, SARC doctors must report the sexual assault or sexual abuse of young people up to the age of 18 to Child Protection and Family Services (CPFS). Further action won’t necessarily be taken unless the young person is considered at risk of harm.
  • If the SARC worker is concerned that you are at risk to yourself or from others, they will support you to ensure your safety.

If you would like more information on confidentiality, contact the Customer Services Unit at King Edward Memorial Hospital on (08) 6458 1444.

Freedom of Information (FOI)

Freedom of Information (FOI) gives members of the public a right to access government documents, subject to some limitations. In Western Australia, under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (the FOI Act), the right applies to documents held by most State government agencies (such as departments, public hospitals, public universities and State government authorities), Ministers and local government.

Documents accessible under the FOI Act include paper records, plans and drawings, photographs, tape recordings, films, videotapes and/or information stored in a computerised form.

Anyone can apply to have personal information about themselves in government documents amended if that information is inaccurate, incomplete, out of date or misleading.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, people are able to access their SARC records. To find out more about applying to access records, email FOI.KEMH@health.wa.gov.au or call the Information Officer on (08) 6458 1312.

No application fee applies if you are seeking personal information. If your application is limited to personal information that’s just about you, the agency may delete all other information from the documents that is not about you (for example, the names of anyone else appearing in the documents). If you’re seeking information that’s not about you, the fee is $30. Access the Freedom of Information Request Form (PDF).

Last Updated: 25/08/2022