By ROSEMARIE MILSOM
IT is not a job that many of us seek.
Newcastle sexologist Vanessa Thompson treats about 15 convicted sex offenders; some are to be sentenced; others have served jail time.
"I do it because I choose to do it," said Thompson, an associate member of the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse. "I'm really pro-victim and the reason I do what I do is because if I can stop one person from re-offending, that can stop there being more victims."
Thompson uses the Custody-Based Intensive Treatment Outreach program - also known as CORE - for offenders who have a low to moderate risk of re-offending.
(The program is one of a suite of programs used by Corrective Services NSW. Violent sex offenders have different treatment programs).
CORE addresses four key areas: acceptance of responsibility, examining victim issues, identifying offence pathways, and developing a self-management plan.
Thompson gets why society recoils when sex offences make the headlines, but believes that rather than expecting the perpetrators to be permanently locked up - other than a minority who can't be rehabilitated - focus has to shift to treatment.
"People get released into the community anyway, and I think we'd all feel a lot safer, we'd be a lot safer, if they received treatment," she said. "I think that it's not just people in custody [who should receive treatment]; if you've got yourself to the point where you've been charged, then you should have to do a program."
- Just because someone has been convicted and charged doesn't mean they committed the crime.
Currently a sex offender must have a sentence length that allows him - the overwhelming majority of sex offenders are men - to start and complete treatment. Higher risk/needs offenders must have a sentence length of at least 12 months to be eligible for Custody-Based Intensive Treatment (CUBIT), which involves three sessions a week for six to 12 months.
Participation in all custodial sex offender programs is voluntary.