Medical, forensics and evidence

Medical assistance

If you have been injured as a result of a crime, it is important to seek medical assistance for your own wellbeing. If your medical needs are urgent, it is advisable to attend the emergency department of your local hospital for immediate assistance.

You should seek medical assistance even if you do not want to report the crime to the police. Accessing medical care does not mean that you have to report the assault to police or request further action.

Forensic medical examination

If you are a victim of a serious crime such as a recent sexual assault and you have gone to the police, they will take you straight to the nearest hospital or sexual assault service so that you can receive medical treatment.

At a hospital you can have a forensic examination which is a medical examination that can only be conducted by specially trained doctors and nurses. Its purpose is to collect any physical evidence that may be used as evidence against the accused if criminal charges are laid. You can request that a person of your choice - such as a friend or social worker to support you during the examination.

The forensic medical examination is an important part of an investigation. Photographs may also be taken of an injury in intimate areas but there are strict guidelines about how and by whom these can be taken.

It is important to remember that accessing medical care and undergoing a forensic examination, does not mean that you have to report the assault to police or request further action.

You can find your local sexual assault service in the NSW Health Health website.

See also sexual assault on our website.

Services for victims of specific crimes

Child abuse

There are specialised medical services for children who have been injured as a result of child abuse. Different services can be accessed depending on what type of abuse the child has experienced.

If the child has urgent medical needs it is advisable to attend the emergency department of your local hospital or call your local police station.

The Child Protection Helpline (phone 132 111) can provide advice on what service will be most appropriate and assist with referrals.

If a child has experienced sexual abuse, the options for medical care and gathering forensic evidence is the same as for adults. However, there are staff at sexual assault units who can provide a specialist response for children. For more information please go to Sexual Assault website > The investigation > Child or young person

See also:
Specific Crimes > Child Abuse

Domestic violence

It is important to seek medical care if you have recently experienced domestic violence and are injured.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of an assault consult your local GP or go to the nearest hospital. The hospital will document the injuries. It is not advisable to document your own injuries as it will be of little use as evidence in court. The court would want to hear about the injuries from an expert.

If you choose to report domestic violence to the police, you can ask to speak to the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) who can discuss with you further options about documenting your injuries.

See also:
Specific Crimes > Domestic Violence

Sexual assault

It is important that victims of sexual assault seek medical assistance to treat any physical or psychological injuries, regardless of whether the assault was recent or occurred some time ago.

The victim of a recent sexual assault should seek immediate medical assistance.

Medical care can involve dealing with the psychological impact of sexual assault, physical injuries, any concerns about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, and possible forensic examinations (to collect any physical evidence that may be used if criminal charges are laid). Please note that morning after pills are most effective taken within 72 hours of the assault.

Victims of sexual assault should ideally have a forensic medical examination within 72 hours of a sexual assault, but it can be done up to a week after. The sexual assault website has more information about forensic medical examinations and about how you can talk to your local sexual assault service.

If a child has experienced sexual abuse, the options for medical care and gathering forensic evidence is the same as for adults. However there are staff within specialised child protection units who can provide a specialist response for children. For more information please go to Sexual Assault website > The investigation > Child or young person