Isolation from services, a lack of education and gaps in offender rehabilitation all contribute to the Gympie region having a sex crime rate above the Queensland average.
Isolation from services, a lack of education and gaps in offender rehabilitation all contribute to the Gympie region having a sex crime rate above the Queensland average.

Why sex crimes happen more often in places like Gympie

Isolation, a lack of education and a failure to provide ongoing rehabilitation services to offenders are some of the main reasons regional areas like Gympie continue to experience higher sexual assault and abuse rates than their city counterparts, according to one sexual assault service expert.

While the news cycle is dominated by serious allegations of sexual misconduct in Australia's capital cities, sexual crime is actually a more pervasive problem in the regions where offence rates are often well above the state average.

Queensland Police data shows that since January 2010, there have been about 15 sex offences committed per 100,000 people every month in the Gympie police division.

This was well above Queensland's rate of nine offences per 100,000 people.

In Bundaberg, the rate since 2010 has been 14 crimes per 100,000 people each month, in Hervey Bay it has been 12.

The statistics get worse directly north of the region in Maryborough, which reported a sexual crime rate of 22 offences per 100,000 people per month.

Gympie’s crime rate for sexual offences between January 2010 and December 2020.
Gympie’s crime rate for sexual offences between January 2010 and December 2020.

Phoenix House sexual assault service CEO Jason Rushton said sexual offence rates often rose in more isolated areas.

Better education was one necessity, he said, and not just around consent.

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It was important people were being taught what the consequences of these crimes were. Mr Rushton said a considerable number of children under the age of 16 believe their youth essentially made them untouchable by the law; a belief far from reality.

But there was a big gap in offender rehabilitation too.

"They want help," Mr Rushton said.

Queensland’s crime rate for sexual offences between January 2010 and December 2020.
Queensland’s crime rate for sexual offences between January 2010 and December 2020.

"But (they) won't go up and ask for that help because they're too embarrassed."

People convicted of sex crimes often move away from cities to regional areas for the chance to start fresh and move forward with their life, Mr Rushton said. But without services in place to help them, their behaviour was less likely to change.

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This flow of offending had to be cut off; research continues to show while not every person who is abused becomes an offender, those who do offend almost always have been victims of abuse themselves in the past.

This led back to the need for better education, including the need to identify inappropriate behaviour and provide better education for parents who now face the challenges of iPad, computers, and the online world.

"Parenting has changed so much," Mr Rushton said.

Gympie Times


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