The region's sex crimes boss says he's pleased with recent court outcomes after two high-end offenders copped a combined 29 years' jail.
Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Asenjo, who oversees the Warrnambool-based sex offences and child abuse investigation team, said sexual offending shattered families and had a lifetime impact on victims.
"Short of a homicide, sexual offences are considered some of the most serious offending in the criminal statute book," he said.
The region's courts recently saw two high-end sexual assault offenders jailed for a combined 29 years.
"It's only right that when people plead or are found guilty of serious sexual offending, the courts issue very severe penalties for these offenders," Detective Senior Sergeant Asenjo said.
"We have children being offended against decades earlier that are still living through their trauma. It's vivid."
Last year, a Glenelg district man found guilty of more than 20 charges including incest with his two young daughters was jailed for more than 20 years.
"I think we're seeing a shift where courts are rightly listening to the community," the detective said.
"Sex crimes are the most significant in nature and it's quite right that the courts are issuing penalties in line with the seriousness of this offending."
Detective Senior Sergeant Asenjo said his team of detectives ensured all matters were investigated to their fullest, in the hope of getting victim-survivors their day in court.
"It's pleasing now to see the courts are really listening to victims and taking seriously the conduct of these people, which in some cases is very, very cruel," he said.
"We try to be as progressive as we can in ways we gather evidence and all of that goes towards making the strongest case as possible for victims and holding perpetrators to account.
"I'm not saying it's easy. In my 10-plus years in the sex crime space and talking to victims and investigators, it's taxing for both. It's hard but you'll be supported."
The unit commander said the region had detectives specifically trained in processing and investigating high-end sexual offending.
And under his command, when a victim-survivor walks into the station the first thing they will be is believed.
"I think in the past, as a community and organisation, we have failed there but if you come in to report a crime, we will believe you," Detective Senior Sergeant Asenjo said
"We want to hear your story, help you seek justice and make a difference."
The detective said most successful court outcomes started with a very informal conversation.
"I would encourage victims of crime, or family members, to just come in to the station and let us help you," he said.
"It might not always mean going to court but providing support through other agencies and assisting them the best we can."
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
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