Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) commenced on Saturday 1 April, with a full month ahead of activities and events to raise awareness, raise funds and educate Tasmanians on the role we can all play in putting an end to sexual violence.
Now in its fourth year in Tasmania, SAAM is about holding conversations and breaking down the stigma of people talking about sexual violence. The key take home message this year for SAAM is: Consent is a Conversation.
Sexual Assault Support Service CEO Jill Maxwell introduced SAAM in Tasmania after hearing about the initiative which has been running overseas for more than 20 years.
“SAAM aims to educate everyone in the community – in workplaces, sporting clubs, social groups, at home and online” says Jill. “By increasing awareness, and taking away the stigma of talking about sexual assault, we have the power to really make a difference.”
“This year our key message is straightforward and very important – Consent is a Conversation. We all need to realise that thinking of consent as an ongoing conversation helps us create intimate relationships that are pleasurable, respectful, healthy and safe.”
A month of activities and events - from the arts to sport, high tea to webinars
“We have a great program running throughout April for SAAM, with everything from sporting rounds to high tea. Our usual Wear Teal Tuesday has expanded and we now have Wear Teal Week, which means organisations can pick any day in the last week of April for their workplace morning tea or activity.”
“Our Teaching Kids Consent webinar will be held online again this year, which is a valuable resource for parents or guardians of children and young people.”
“We are also introducing a new workshop, Coaching Consent, which has been developed specifically for coaches and managers working and volunteering in junior sports and athletics. The workshop is being delivered online to ensure access right around Tasmania.”
“We are delighted to have the support of Netball Tasmania again this year, with a SAAM round of the Tasmanian Netball League to close off the month. And we welcome Hockey Tasmania who are also holding a SAAM round this year.”
Jill says the team will be out in the community throughout the month, starting from Tuesday 4 April at the Theatre Royal.
“The Theatre Royal is presenting the award-winning Prima Facie this week. This is a powerful fictional story about a woman navigating both sides of the legal system as a defence lawyer and then as a sexual assault survivor. SASS staff will be at the theatre for each performance if anyone wants to chat or find out more about our services.”
“Our primary prevention team have a visit to UTAS coming up, we have SAAM classes with Seishin Martial Arts again this year, and we’re also holding a Teal High Tea at Hadley’s where we’ll be joined by some of the SASS founders for a conversation.”
Registrations to take part in Wear Teal Week are open, and Jill encourages businesses, organisations, schools, sporting and social groups to jump online and register.
“The last week of April is our big Week of Action. It’s a great opportunity to get involved and get people talking about the importance of consent. Taking part is easy – wear a teal ribbon or wristband, hold a morning tea and collect a gold coin donation from each attendee.”
Support from the community has a big impact
Jill says the team continue to see positive impacts from SAAM, with a significant and steady increase in referral numbers and people accessing support.
“Our counselling service is for anyone impacted by sexual trauma” says Jill. “In addition to survivors, we also offer support for family members and partners. And there is no time limit, we have people that reach out to us many years after their abuse.”
“We have also seen an ongoing increase in the demand for SASS training programs. Our consent education program started with 4 schools in 2016 and now delivers programs state-wide. And the growth we have continue to see for workplace and specialist training is really pleasing.”
“Our vision at SASS is to achieve a healthy, safe Tasmania free from sexual harm,” says Jill. “We know it’s a challenge, but we also know that community education and support is making an impact. Organisations and people who participate in SAAM are playing a key role in helping us get there.”
Further details about SAAM, including registration for Wear Teal Week, can be found at https://www.sass.org.au/saam
SASS CEO Jill Maxwell is available for phone or in person interviews, so please email her directly if you wish to arrange a time to chat.
Jill Maxwell – @email or 0427 230067
Jo Bailey – @email or 0418 321251
Released for Sexual Assault Support Service by Jo Bailey, Manager of Marketing & Communications