Reports that alleged rape victims have been turned away from Queensland hospitals and advised to take photos of their injuries are “completely unacceptable”, the state’s health minister says.
The shadow health minister, Ros Bates, said a whistleblower had revealed that an alleged rape victim was taken to one hospital in August, transferred due to a lack of available trained staff and then spent eight hours waiting on an ambulance ramp at the second hospital.
The whistleblower also claimed another woman was turned away from a hospital, asked to take a photo of her injuries and return the next day, the shadow minister for domestic violence prevention, Amanda Camm, said.
In a third alleged case, a rape victim in Brisbane was told by hospital staff to go home and not wash before returning, due to a lack of rape kits and trained staff.
LNP MP Deb Frecklington said the opposition had been told that rape kits are only available in two hospitals across greater Brisbane and that police are often advised the Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospital (RBWH) has no weekend capacity to attend to victims.
The chief executive of the Queensland Sexual Assault Network, Angela Lynch, said she is aware of gaps in the rollout of rape kits and delays in women accessing examinations.
“It’s already hard enough to be able to get a conviction in the criminal justice system in relation to sexual violence and rape,” Lynch told Guardian Australia.
“We’ve got a 1.7% conviction rate. So those are very concerning statements that are being made if women are essentially being asked to gather their own evidence [by taking photos].”