Establishing the Connection: Interventions linking service responses for sexual assault with drug or alcohol use/abuse: Key findings and future directions

Monday, 30th May 2016

This paper presents key findings and implications for policy-makers, researchers and practitioners from ANROWS research project Establishing the Connection: Interventions linking service responses for sexual assault with drug or alcohol use/abuse.

Establishing the Connection was a Victorian-based study that aimed to examine the intersections between alcohol and other drug (AOD) use and sexual victimisation and trauma, how both support sectors currently work together, and how they can respond more effectively to the needs of those affected.

The study found that:

  • Participants from both the AOD and the sexual assault sectors demonstrated a practical understanding of the interrelationship between drug and alcohol use and sexual victimisation. The overlap between sexual victimisation and alcohol and other drug use was very relevant for AOD and sexual assault counsellors and managers who were aware of the very large numbers of potentially “shared” clients.
  • Current practice in the assessment and intake processes in the AOD and sexual assault sectors varies considerably and reflects both the organisational frameworks that guide practice, as well as the initiative and confidence of individuals in the sectors in referring clients to other services.
  • Factors that hinder collaboration included insufficient resources; uncertainty about how the other sector works; lack of communication; and role creep, which describes the expansion of demands and activities of a job or role over time that are not balanced by additional resources to support them.
  • Practitioners and managers expressed great interest in expanding their understanding of the other sector through a variety of avenues, some of which included: shared focus on client-centred care; openness to discussion and sharing information; previous interagency collaboration; and policy and governance support.

Findings from the report informed the development of practice guidelines to assist service providers with the identification, assessment, response and referral of individuals and families affected by co-occurring sexual abuse victimisation and substance use issues. 

Download Compass 03/2016.pdf (963.13 KB)

ANROWS Compass papers are concise papers that summarise key findings of research on violence against women and their children, including research produced under ANROWS’s research program, and provide advice on the implications for policy and practice.