The Karen Iles Sexual Assault Victims Justice Fund
In 2022 Karen Iles spoke publicly for the first time about the multiple aggravated sexual assaults committed against her as a 14-year old child. The crimes perpetrated by a well known gang were “among the most serious ever reported to authorities in Australia.” (Ben Smee, The Guardian Australia, 4 October 2022). Despite reporting to Police in her early 20’s (almost 20 years ago!) not a single person of interest has ever been interviewed.
Karen’s account of police failure to investigate in two states; Queensland and New South Wales, has angered a nation. In 2022, Karen’s experience of the justice system was featured in the Guardian Australia, A Current Affair, ABC 7.30, ABC Radio and Mamamia. You can read more about Karen’s experiences of the justice system in this article by Ben Smee, The Guardian Australia, 4 October 2022.
Karen’s aim is to campaign to increase police accountability, and create certainty in the police response, for victims/survivors of sexual assault.
This fund has been established with the following objectives:
1. Fund independent legal representatives for women and gender diverse people who have been victims of sexual assault.
This will allow victims to have legal advice on all of the different legal options available to them, to be represented when they report sexual assault to Police, to be represented when trying to hold police to account to investigate the crimes committed against them, and to be represented through the entire criminal, civil and administrative elements of our justice system.
Karen Iles was the recipient of the Law Society of NSW 2022 Pro Bono Service Award in recognition of the work she does to support victims of sexual assault.
2. Fund the campaign to increase police accountability when victims come forward with reports of sexual assault.
Everyone who has been the victim of sexual assault deserves to have their reports taken seriously, and consistently, by police and our justice system. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Currently, the law in Australia does not impose a duty on police; either a duty of care or a duty to investigate. Without clear duties and minimum standards, investigations about police conduct are difficult. We need a baseline to hold police accountable and independent mechanisms to review police conduct against this duty and set of standards.
You can read more about the current campaign to increase police accountability, sign the petition and receive campaign updates: https://www.change.org/p/change-the-law-compel-police-to-investigate-child-sexual-assault
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