The epidemiology of sexual assault of older female nursing home residents, in Victoria Australia, between 2000 and 2015

Daisy Smith, Nicola Cunningham, Melissa Willoughby, Carmel Young, Morris Odell, Joseph Ibrahim, Lyndal Bugeja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Sexual assault is the least acknowledged, detected, and reported type of assault against nursing home residents. Nursing home staff are responsible for reporting suspected allegations to the police, who will contact a clinical forensic examiner to conduct a forensic medical examination. This study examined the epidemiology of sexual assaults of older women (aged 65 years and older) residing in nursing homes in Victoria, Australia, between 2000 and 2015, whose alleged incidents were referred to a clinical forensic examiner for a forensic medical examination. A retrospective analysis of alleged sexual assaults reported to the Clinical Forensic Medicine Unit at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2015 was conducted. The study identified 28 forensic medical examinations performed for alleged sexual assault. The alleged victims frequently had cognitive impairments; injuries were infrequent; and alleged victims were cooperative. The forensic medical examiner responded within 72 h of reporting; and frequently noted limitations to physical examinations of the alleged victim. The actual number of sexual assaults during this period may be masked by under-reporting and, lack of identification by nursing home staff. There are many unresolved issues including: incidence, levels of reporting, nature of investigations, responses required to assist the victim, and the interventions needed to prevent sexual assault. Better data is vital. This data should be standardized, validated, reliable, and gathered prospectively across Australia and internationally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalLegal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Forensic medical examinations
  • Nursing homes
  • Older persons
  • Sexual assault

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