It's up to sexual assault victims over 16 whether they tell parents, police say counsellors

Counsellors say it's up to victims of sexual assault over the age of 16 whether they tell their parents or police about the incident.

Organisers of a Labour youth camp near Waihi three weeks ago say they didn't tell parents or police that four 16-year-old participants had been sexually assaulted and harassed by a man there, because they didn't want to cause further distress.

And those working with young people agree it's up to the victim, if they're over 16.

We would welcome an approach from anyone who was a victim or who was there - Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers

"Often young people are reluctant to confide in their parents and particularly over sexual matters. So we work with that and we would not push them to do that. But we would encourage them to talk to supportive adults in their lives," Jean Andrews a student guidance counsellor told 1 NEWS.

That message is echoed by police. 

"Certainly we would welcome an approach from anyone who was a victim or who was there. We would welcome them coming to us to talk about what happened so that we can provide some support as well," said Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers.

Outside help wasn't offered to the victims of the man at the Labour summer camp until three weeks after the offending.

Professionals say in cases like this victims should be offered help immediately, and the offender should also receive support.    

"For there to be four victims in that short period of time it seems really important that that person may need some professional help," said Debbi Tohill of Rape Prevention Education.

Ms Andrews said it's important to have trained and registered counsellors available to young people under 25 "because it's not a one size fits all".

Labour is facing questions over it's handling of the incidents.

"It just seems like everything's been hushed up. And it's that culture of silence that really shocks me," said National MP Judith Collins.

 The Labour Party is reviewing how it plans such events in the future.