Rape victim’s shocking treatment at Queensland hospital earned an apology – via text message

A rape victim turned away by a central Queensland hospital later received an apology via text, the state opposition says.

Oct 12, 2023, updated Oct 12, 2023
Rockhampton hospital in Rockhampton, Queensland, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Rockhampton hospital in Rockhampton, Queensland, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AAP Image/Dan Peled) NO ARCHIVING

Health Minister Shannon Fentiman on Thursday “unreservedly apologised” to the woman who did not receive appropriate care at Rockhampton Hospital.

Ms Fentiman said the woman sought help at the hospital in early August, requesting a forensic examination.

“It is clear she did not receive the timely, compassionate, trauma-informed care that she was entitled to and expected,” she told parliament on Thursday.

“The hospital and health service has apologised to the young woman and I would like to also unreservedly apologise to her for the ongoing impact that this incident has had on her.”

Ms Fentiman also extended an invitation to meet with the woman, who has been offered support services.

The opposition says the woman has only received a text message from the hospital.

“The opposition has just been advised that apology came as a text sent by the hospital at 9.31am this morning, just moments before the health minister stood in this house,” LNP MP Laura Gerber said.

“It also advises the health minister called the hospital this morning after seeing media reports.

“Can the minister explain how what she said in the house this morning differs so greatly from the accounts and experience of the hospital staff and the victim?”

Ms Fentiman said she understood the hospital had been trying to get in touch with the woman to apologise.

“I was made aware of the complaint late last night and of course today I have unreservedly apologised, as well,” she said.

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Ms Fentiman said a number of improved processes had been implemented at the health service as a result of the woman’s treatment.

They include ensuring social workers are present from the time of a patient’s presentation and continuity of care by a specialised nurse and medical officer.

Earlier this week, the health minister pledged to urgently investigate opposition allegations that sexual assault victims had been turned away from hospitals due to lack of trained staff or new rape testing kits.

Ms Fentiman said the director-general had met with all 16 health services on Wednesday to ensure women at emergency departments requiring forensic examinations received timely, trauma-informed care.

She said this week new rape testing kits were available at every hospital and health service, with more than 180 clinicians trained since July to use them under Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce reforms.

A 24-hour hotline to assist clinicians about the rape kit tests has also been set up.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

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