//Health Ombudsman fears under-reporting of sexual assaults

Health Ombudsman fears under-reporting of sexual assaults

16 June 2016

The state’s Health Ombudsman has expressed concern over a possible under-reporting of sexual assaults involving massage therapists in Queensland.

Health Ombudsman Leon Atkinson-MacEwen said that a review of prohibition orders issued since his office was established in July 2014 showed that, while the number of complaints about massage therapists had been relatively low, a disproportionate number involved quite serious allegations.

“While the data we have at this point is still relatively limited, given the number of people who work in massage therapy, the lack of industry regulation and the nature of the profession, I am concerned there are instances of inappropriate behaviour that may be going unreported,” Mr Atkinson-MacEwen said.

“Unfortunately, this is coupled with the fact that we know from the research only a small number of sexual assaults ever get reported to authorities,” he said.

Mr Atkinson-MacEwen said he wanted to assure people there was no reason to be alarmed, but to be aware of their personal safety when visiting a massage therapist.

“There are simple things people can do, such as taking a friend along with them or making sure to visit reputable businesses, to help them stay safe.

“It’s important to note, the vast majority of massage therapists conduct themselves professionally, but every industry has its share of ‘bad eggs’.

“I urge anyone who has visited a massage therapist and felt that something wasn’t ‘quite right’ about the treatment they received to contact my office to make a formal complaint.

“But if there is any unwanted contact of a sexual nature, contact the police in the first instance.”

Mr Atkinson-MacEwen said his office works with the Queensland Police Service to identify and take action against any health practitioners, including massage therapists, alleged to have committed a crime, including referring all matters involving allegations of crime to the police.

“The Queensland Police Service are responsible for dealing with criminal matters, such as sexual assaults, while my office works with the police to use all evidence gathered to determine whether an individual should be banned from practising their health profession in order to protect the public.”

If you have been sexually assaulted by a health service provider you should contact the police on 000, or for all other concerns relating to healthcare you’ve received contact the Office of the Health Ombudsman on 133 OHO (133 646).


media@oho.qld.gov.au 0427 483 656