Ballarat Base Hospital initiated discussion in regard to the establishment of a sexual assault clinic with the Health Commission in 1983. Consequent to extensive consultations with a group of Ballarat regional workers and agencies, including Lifeline, a proposal was developed with was successful in attracting funding which was received in September 1984. The sexual assault service was known as Ballarat Base Hospital Crisis Centre and was based in the Causality Department. It was initially anticipated that it would function only as a sexual assault unit, however, as reported in the 1989 Report of the Sexual Assault Services Working Party –
“Due to perceived difficulties about the introduction of such a service to a conservative rural community, and the need for the appointee to establish herself in the community, a range of crises other than sexual assault were considered. These included crisis counselling of attempted suicide, parents of sudden infant death, or relatives of trauma victims”.
It was initially anticipated that it would function only as a sexual assault unit, however, as reported in the 1989 Report of the Sexual Assault Services Working Party –
A lone worker with a nursing background previously employed in the hospital provided the above-mentioned range of crisis care. She established an initial support group which became an Advisory Commitee. This Advisory Committee eventually evolved into a Committee of Management.
In 1989, the Central Highland / Wimmera Region Sexual Assault Working Party proposed the establishment of two hospital-based sexual assault services – one at the Ballarat Base Hospital and one at Wimmera Base Hospital.
Ms. Kerin Howe, who was a member of both the working party and the Ballarat Base Hospital Board of Management, advocated that these recommendations be implemented. Funding for capital works was received in 1991 and this was used to relocate the services from the accident and emergency department to the second floor of Jessie Langham House.
Further funding was successfully sought to facilitate the development of a coordinator position for Ballarat CASA. This was a significant change from the centre being run by a single nurse practitioner. The hospital-based “Crisis Centre” officially became the Ballarat Sexual Assault Centre and began to take referrals exclusively for survivors of sexual assault and their non-offending support people. This relocation and the appointment of a social worker qualified coordinator substantially changed the nature and focus of the service from a medically modelled crisis service to a Centre Against Sexual Assault, with a service delivery approach based on a social model of causation and not victim blaming. The Ballarat Sexual Assault Centre officially became the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault in 1995.
Whilst the location at Jessie Langham House was preferable to the Accident and Emergency Centre, there were still some problems with this location. The public hospital setting was considered inappropriate for the delivery of service in relation to sexual assault. In 1997, Ballarat CASA appointed consultants to undertake a review of auspicing arrangements and the location of CASA. The outcome of this review stated that the preferred option was to remain under the governance of Ballarat Health Services with the condition that CASA would relocate to more appropriate accommodation.
Ballarat CASA re-located to 115 & 115A Ascot St in 1999.
Further funding and growth saw another relocation to our current site in July 2013 to occupy a wing of the Jack Lonsdale Lodge with its own entry on the corner of Edward and Vale Streets Sebastopol.
Further funding and growth from the recent Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence has seen a further increase in funding, which has again increased our staff numbers.