What is CASA Central Victoria?
The Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) Central Victoria is one of 15 CASAs throughout Victoria. It is a not-for-profit, government funded organisation that provides trauma informed counselling, advocacy and support for people who have experienced a recent or historical sexual assault. The service is also available for family and community members who have also felt impacted. CASA also offers specialized advocacy, secondary consultation, community education and professional training within the community and across the sector.
For people who have experienced a recent sexual assault we provide 24-hour crisis care that includes counselling, support, information and advocacy for medical care and legal options.
We also deliver family focused, prevention and early intervention services to children (0- 18 years) who have engaged in problematic or abusive sexualised behaviours.
We are co-located in the MDC in Bendigo
CASA is within the Bendigo Multi-disciplinary Complex (MDC) in Bendigo along with:
- Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT)
- Child Protection Child Sexual Offences Investigation Team
- Bendigo Community Health Services – Community Health Nurse
- Victims of Crime Program.
Why we exist
For more than 40 years CASA has been working to transform society and change the systemic drivers of sexual violence.
We have made substantial achievements in enhancing sectors response to sexual assault through education, advocacy, research and specialised therapeutic services to adults, children and their family members.
CASA works alongside people who have experienced sexual assault to support and advocate on their behalf. This includes care and support during criminal justice proceedings and forensic medical procedures.
We also work extensively with Police, and the legal, medical and child protection systems, to advocate for better system responses for victims and families.
The Centre Against Sexual Assault was established originally in 1979 with Queen Victoria Medical Centre to provide a 24 hour counselling service to victims of sexual assault. This ultimately led to the establishment of first Government funded Sexual Assault Centre.
In 1984 Bendigo CASA was established to provide a range of services for adults and children who had experienced sexual assault. In 2015 CASA moved into a multidisciplinary center (MDC).
Our therapeutic approach
Our therapeutic approach focuses on the presenting issues related to the experience of sexual assault or abuse. This includes the emotional, psychological, developmental, economic and social consequences. Central to our approach is that a person is not asked to retell their experience.
We provide vital therapeutic counselling, support and advocacy for people impacted by sexual assault, to enable them to heal from trauma. We advocate on behalf of adults and children and young people to have their needs heard and upheld by others. We provide support, education and guidance to parents and carers of children and young people to enable them to keep children happy, safe and healthy.
We support professionals working with adults, young people and children to be more responsive to the needs of those impacts by sexual violence. We work across communities to strength peoples understanding of the drivers of sexual violence and how to keep children and young people safe.
Our caring and experienced staff can assist in helping you to consider the options that are available to you such as reporting to the Police, receiving medical care, making a police statement or having a or forensic medical examination. If you do not want to make a statement to police we can also assist by providing emotional support and if appropriate, offering a general medical appointment to ensure that you’re okay. We can also offer you an appointment to meet with one of our counsellors the following business day to make sure your needs are met and discuss your options and care.
Our theoretical framework
We operate from a structuralist human right, feminist analysis of sexual assault. CASA is committed to addressing the gender, cultural, social, economic and class inequalities which result in the perpetration of sexual assault and violence against women and children.
We operate within the framework of the Victims’ Rights Model of service delivery in which survivors’ rights are central.
Knowledge and understanding of the individual, cultural, social and universal context of the lives of women, men and children is fundamental to enable services to respond consistently and appropriately to the range and diversity of needs of people who have experienced sexual assault.
Our work is guided by feminist principles that acknowledge that sexual assault arises from a power imbalance, usually between men and women, and men and children. Sexual assault is a violent act which occurs regardless of age, class, culture and race. Men’s exercise of power over women and children can be reinforced by myths and attitudes held in the home, workplace and the community.
CASA Central Victoria advocates for change by educating and empowering the community to dispel myths and attitudes that perpetuate violence and power inequities. We will work towards a safer community, encouraging and promoting changes within society to address gender inequities and the abuses of power.
Our guiding principles
Equity, inclusion and human rights are embedded within our organisation.
Integrity, safety, respect and empowerment
Are integrated in every aspect of our service delivery and governance.
Quality and accountability
Our work is evidence based, measured and accountable to our clients and the community
We work within a feminist framework to challenge and reform structural gender inequities.Strategic Plan 2018 - 2023
We are governed by a group of passionate professionals that guide and inform our work and actions.
Sonya Oper has been volunteering on the CASACV board since 2015. Born and raised in Bendigo, Sonya obtained degrees in Business and Social Work at Latrobe University and has had diverse roles in areas such as community adult education, housing and health sectors in both public and private organisations. Sonya is currently employed at Castlemaine Health as a Social Worker in the Progressive Neurological Disorder Clinic. Sonya has a particular focus on advocating for, and working with, older persons.
Lindsey Bish has been a member of the Board of the Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria since 2014. Lindsey has a law degree and a degree in Commerce (Industrial/Employee Relations). Lindsey has worked in public sector Industrial Relations and private and public sector Human Resources. She currently works as Deputy Human Resources/Workplace Health and Safety Manager at a public sector health organisation. Lindsey values her involvement with a service which is providing needed support and services for victim/survivors of sexual assault and also advocating for change in societal attitudes/behaviours through education and empowerment.
Anne joined the Centre Against Sexual Assault Board Central Victoria in June 2019, bringing her broad range of experience in the Not-for-profit and charitable sectors in operational management, governance, risk and compliance. Anne understands the important role of providing a supportive, confidential and forward focused counselling service to individuals and family members affected by sexual assault. Anne is committed to working with the CASACV Board and team to enhance the range of services provided to improve the wellbeing of all CASA clients.
John Dalton is a Detective Senior Sergeant with Victoria Police. In 2016, he was promoted to his current role as the Unit Manager of the Central Victoria Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Unit.
His vast policing experience of 30 years includes assignments at various rural and metropolitan Policing areas. Victoria Police has enabled John to gain invaluable experience in people management, project work and managing complex and protracted operations including large scale protests, critical incidents, and working through the challenges of delivery new processes and procedures. However, his passion in policing is crime investigation, and specifically investigating those crimes inflicted on the most vulnerable victims of our community.
Outside of work commitments, he is passionate about the future of our young people in the local community and enjoys investing his time in the development of the Blue Light Youth Club and its programs.
John has been a board member of CASACV for 2 years and thoroughly enjoys this role. He is looking forward to being part of a progressive team which will take the organisation through an exciting period.
Nickie King joined the CASACV board in 2016. Nickie is a self-employed Bendigo lawyer and accredited mediator working in the areas of Child Protection and Family Law, with a background of working in community organisations and Legal Aid. Nickie has a particular interest in the rights and wellbeing of children and values being part of a board and organisation that promotes individual wellbeing alongside a broader understanding of the impact of sexual assault on the community as a whole.
Work with Us
Our aim is to reduce the impacts of sexual abuse on children and adults, and reduce the incidents of abuse within families and communities. We provide trauma informed specialist counselling, advocacy and support and our work encompasses research, education and raising community awareness of the nature of abuse, its impacts and how to prevent its occurrence.
We are committed to Equal Employment Opportunity principles, anti-discriminatory practice and maintain a smoke-free workplace.
To work with us you’ll need a Working with Children Check and be willing to abide by CASA Policy and Procedures. Attractive salary packages will be offered to the right candidates.
Student Placement Program
CASA offers a student placement program for tertiary students within a research, clinical or project-based capacity. We are currently taking Expressions of Interest for the next Student Intake.