All people have the right to be safe when accessing acute mental health inpatient treatment. Health services have clear obligations to uphold this right and to ensure a safe environment. However, complaints to our office indicate that many people have not been, or felt, safe in these environments.

Complaints about sexual safety breaches in acute mental health inpatient units provide a vital window into the gravity and impact of these incidents. Sexual harassment and sexual assault are violations of people’s human rights that can cause immeasurable trauma and, along with other types of sexual safety breaches, are significant avoidable harms that must be addressed.

The Sexual Safety Project report, The right to be safe, identifies the need for sexual safety to be recognised as a human rights issue and to receive priority attention, in accordance with Victoria’s broader violence prevention strategies.

This report endeavours to honour the preparedness of people to make complaints about highly personal and distressing experiences and the desire for their complaints to lead to improved outcomes for others. – Commissioner Lynne Coulson Barr