Many women taking treatment in Victorian psychiatric wards have complained about harassment and sexual assaults by male patients inside the mixed wards.
According to The Age, the Victorian Women and Mental Health Network has claimed that despite efforts to create female-only areas in mental health facilities in recent years, no attention has been paid to their pleas, which has resulted in more complaints of women being abused in the mixed wards by their male counterparts.
Network chairwoman Heather Clarke said several sexual assaults had been reported to the network recently, including the rape of an 18-year-old woman by a male patient in an acute adult psychiatric unit.
She also claimed that up to 70 per cent of female patients had experienced physical or sexual assaults in the past, including during their childhood, and were at risk of suffering further trauma if they were abused in hospital.
"Women report significant humiliation and loss of dignity following such behaviour, which impacts negatively on their recovery of mental health. Women are admitted to hospital to feel safe and get well, but the harassment and abuse they may experience can trigger distressing memories related to past trauma, causing their mental health to deteriorate further," she added.
Victorian women have raised concerns about the lack of safety inside mixed wards for more than 10 years but the Victorian government has not heeded calls for segregated units, the paper said.