PartnerSPEAK was formed as a direct result of the need to provide support and advocacy for the forgotten victims of child sex offenders - their partners, and their families.
Chief Executive Officer Natalie Walker founded PartnerSPEAK in 2004 following the news of a police operation that charged approximately 200 Australian men with offences relating to child sexual abuse material.
“When I heard it, I ran out of the room and tried not to vomit because I had had the experience of discovering my ex-partner was involved with child sexual abuse material only 18 months earlier. It was really raw and traumatic. And when I heard the news, it took me back there,” Natalie said.
There was wide spread media coverage of the operation for weeks which prompted Natalie into action. Apart from reliving her own worst life experience, Natalie quickly realised there was no one standing beside the non-offending partners and guiding them through policing and legal processes. There was no one who truly understood their emotional devastation.
Now when executing a warrant where family members are present, operational members can provide those affected by the offender’s actions with information about PartnerSPEAK. Those affected can call the peer support line or join the 24-hour moderated online peer support forum. People in Brisbane and Victoria can also arrange a face-to-face support meeting.
Training and a dialogue for operational members around PartnerSPEAK was held at the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) this week (4 August 2022). It was a chance for AFP Child Protection Operations, Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team leaders as well as members from Queensland Police Service to learn more about the organisation and test-run training due to roll out nationally.
ACCCE and Human Exploitation Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling said the event was an opportunity to review current process and discover ways of improving our support for family members affected by this horrific crime.
“It’s been invaluable to have the exchange of information between our operational members and PartnerSPEAK which will inform and support the roll-out of face-to-face training to law enforcement across all Australian police jurisdictions,” Detective Superintendent Crossling said.
The agenda focused on the current state-by-state process for referrals to PartnerSPEAK; a trial for Melbourne and Brisbane for peer support for affected family members post-warrant execution; an overview of the reporting conducted by PartnerSPEAK; and the process around PartnerSPEAK and AFP’s engagement when further evidence is found by affected family members.
You can hear more about PartnerSPEAK and Natalie’s personal experience in the Closing The Net Podcast – Episode 2 – What You Don’t Know May Hurt You.
Find out more at partnerspeak.org.au