Reporting a rape or sexual assault in NSW

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Reporting a rape or sexual assault in NSW

  • If someone is in immediate danger, call 000;
  • For injuries, pain or physical discomfort the local hospital, a sexual health clinic or a GP can help.
  • For over 16s, it is always a personal choice whether to report sexual assault to the police or not;
  • Medical attention and/or have a forensic examination (this means having physical evidence collected and stored by a health practitioner) can be provided without reporting sexual assault to the police;
  • Our counsellors can provide support in making decisions about reporting violence to the police and offer continued support through the process when the decision is made to make a report to police.
  • This information is for NSW. For other states, check the website of the state police force for more details about how to report a sexual assault.

"Do I have to report it?"

For people over 16 years old, it is always the individual's choice whether or not to report to the police if they have been sexually assaulted.

Many people find it difficult to make decisions about reporting experiences of sexual assault.

We aim to help people understand what to expect if they do choose to report the crime to police. We can also explain what the options are if they decide not to.

Reporting a sexual assault to the police

If someone is in immediate danger call 000.

If there are injuries, pain or physical discomfort the local hospital, a sexual health clinic or a GP can help.

You can read more about getting medical help after sexual assault here:

Sexual assault is a crime experienced by many people. But researchers think only about 5% of sexual assaults are reported to police.

There are many reasons for this including fear of not being believed, fear of the unknown, or feelings of shame and embarrassment. Some might worry that other people will find out what happened to them, and how they will react. If assaulted by someone they know, some may worry about what might happen to the person who assaulted them.

These thoughts and feelings are all completely normal and understandable. These are the very reasons we stress that the choice to tell anyone, including police, belongs entirely to the victim.

If a report is made to the police, whoever reports it can still change their mind and choose not to take any further action. Any change of mind should be discussed with the officer assigned to investigate the assault.

Things to consider about reporting sexual violence to police

People choose to go ahead with reporting sexual assault to the police for varied and personal reasons.

Remember, the offender is responsible for the crimes they have committed and the person they assaulted is never to blame.

The sooner a report is made to the police, the more likely it is that any evidence may be found. Our memory tends to be much clearer closer to the time of the assault and this will provide stronger evidence for the police to investigate.

If the person has not yet decided whether to report the assault to police, sexual assault services can still provide confidential medical assessment and care. They will not report the crime without the agreement of the person they are supporting.

If the person has decided not to make a formal complaint to the police, they can still share information about the assault and/or the offender with the police. This is done online using the Sexual Assault Reporting Option.

Reporting a recent rape or sexual assault

If the sexual assault happened recently, a report can be made to the police by visiting a local police station or contacting them by phone - ask for the Crime Manager.

If the individual has injuries or would like to see a doctor and/ or a counsellor, they should visit their local hospital. The hospital can arrange for police to take a statement and/ or arrange for a specialist sexual assault service to provide care.

NSW Health provides specialist sexual assault services in every local health district. These services provide counselling to anyone who has experienced sexual assault. They provide medical attention to anyone who has been sexually assaulted in the last week. Outside NSW, please consult the local health service for information in the local area.

Sexual assault services can collect evidence of the crime using a sexual assault investigation kit. But there is always a free choice whether or not to do this.

NSW Health may be able to collect evidence and store it to allow time to make a decision about reporting the assault. In most circumstances they will not release records to police without consent of the person who was assaulted. Any records relating to sexual assault are stored separately from general medical records.

To report a crime in an emergency phone 000 or contact a local police station.

In a non-emergency contact the NSW Police Force customer assistance unit on 13 14 44.

It happened a while ago

It can take time to make the decision to report sexual assault. It is common for people to make reports days, weeks and sometimes years or decades after the assault.

There are legal and medical options available no matter when the assault or assaults occurred. Sexual assault can be reported at any time at any police station.

The police value reports made at any time. It is important for them to be aware of all offences, even if there is not enough evidence for them to make an arrest. This helps monitor community safety and prevent further violence.

Reporting sexual assault of a child

The process for reporting the sexual assault of a child is the same as for adults. In the case of a child, specialists like paediatric doctors and special police and child support units also provide support.

In NSW, the safety and protection of children is the most important thing. Anyone who becomes aware that a child has experienced sexual violence or abuse is ethically, and in some cases legally, required to report what has happened.

Any sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, and in some circumstances 18, will be reported to Family and Community Services who may investigate jointly with the police.

NSW Rape Crisis
NSW Rape Crisis
Available 24/7.
Sexual Assault Counselling Australia
Sexual Assault Counselling Australia
For those affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Available 24/7.
Online counselling
Online counselling
Online counselling is also available 24/7.