The ACT were slowest in finalising sexual assault cases in 2019 than any other state or territory in the country.
The latest victims of recorded crime data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has revealed that 72.5 per cent of sex assault cases in the territory remained unresolved within 30 days, compared with 59.1 per cent for Queensland and 69.8 per cent in NSW.
Within 30 days, no identified offender had been proceeded against in 23.5 per cent of ACT sex assault cases.
The highest percentage of the 327 reported victims of sex assault in the ACT were female, and in the 15-to-19 and 25-to-34 age brackets.
Although male victims of sex assault in the ACT were far lower in number, the highest proportion of victims were within two age groups: 0-9 years old and 45 to 54 years old.
The latest available data comes after ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry called a high-level meeting on Wednesday to focus on prevention, response and law reform relating to sex assault offences in the territory.
The meeting was attended by the ACT's most senior directorate heads, Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan and non-government sector representatives in an effort to generate a whole-of-government response and reboot the Sexual Assault Reform Program which began 15 years ago but has since lost its momentum.
The three groups - prevention, response and law reform - will report to an overarching Sexual Assault Response Steering Committee to "set key priorities for future work and action by government".
Women make up 86.6 per cent of the victims of sex assault in the ACT.
At a time when victims support services are reporting a surge in demand with 25,848 calls to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre in 2019-20, the number of sex assault cases which go to trial has plummetted from 230 in the five years from 2010-11 to 2014-15, to 105 in the following five years according to ACT Policing annual report data.
Conviction rates have also fallen during this time.
The ACT's crime data reveals there were 609 sex assaults reported across the territory in 2019, falling to 466 during a COVID-affected 2020. However, support groups believed many sex assaults went unreported last year.
Police are keenly aware of the under-reporting issue. Last year, as Canberra was in the grip of the COVID lockdown, sex assault reports fell by 45 per cent, prompting former Chief Police Officer Chef Ray Johnson to express his concern about a "masking effect" in the data because people are at home with the perpetrator".
"We are very conscious of that [under-reporting issue]," he said.