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Information for the community – Updated guidelines from 5 August 2021
Acknowledgement
The Women’s and Children’s Health Network acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of Country throughout South Australia. We acknowledge and respect their ongoing and deep spiritual connection and relationship to land, air, sea, waters, community and country. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

Not all victims of rape and sexual assault wish to take legal or police action. Some just want medical assessment and health care. Adults (16 years and over) are encouraged to make the decision about legal action themselves.

They can report the crime any time (even years) after the assault. However, if they wish to have a forensic examination to assist them in taking legal action, the collection of evidence is usefully done within 1 week and ideally as soon as possible after the assault.

This option is for people who have been sexually assaulted and do not want to go through the legal process. They should be offered medical care to address concerns they may have in relation to the assault. Some of these concerns may include: pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and the physical effects of the assault.

This medical care may be provided by:

  • General Practitioners
  • Hospital Emergency Department
  • Yarrow Place
  • SHINE SA and other community health services

If the decision is to take legal action, the person will be advised to have a forensic medical examination.

This examination involves both medical care and the collection of forensic evidence which is important in the investigation of the assault. The forensic examination is generally only done up to a week after the assault and is most useful if done within seventy two hours after the assault. The forensic examination can be a detailed and lengthy physical examination involving the taking of swabs for saliva and semen as well as samples of hair, blood and other substances.

In Adelaide, forensic medical examinations are performed by Yarrow Place as we are the only sexual assault service in the state. If you are in a country area this service is offered by Country Health SA at your general hospital. Contact your local police for further details.

If the person is undecided

People may find it difficult to make the decision about legal action, and should be given the option of having the forensic specimens collected and stored until a decision is made. This examination also includes medical care. Yarrow Place stores the forensic evidence securely for 12 months. This provides someone up to 12 months to make a decision about reporting to the police. The forensic evidence is tested as part of a police investigation and would be destroyed after the 12 month period if no report is made.

South Australian Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions

If you would like to read some information about your legal options after a sexual assault, you can download the following from the SA Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions website.

Other rape and sexual assault topics