Today, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed the first phase of law reforms to improve and strengthen the ACT’s response to sexual violence.
Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury welcomed the passage of the ACT Government’s Sexual Assault Reform Legislation Bill 2022, stating the reforms will better align ACT laws with the community’s attitudes and expectations about sexual assault.
“These reforms will improve access to justice for victim-survivors of sexual violence,” Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said.
“We want to address and remove barriers facing victim-survivors to engaging with the justice system by providing appropriate protections and support for those engaging with the criminal justice system.
The reforms represent the first stage of ACT Government-led law reforms stemming from the recommendations in the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee report (SAPR report), Listen. Take Action to Prevent, Believe and Heal, published in December 2021.
As recommended in the SAPR report, the reforms will:
- explicitly provide that evidence of prior family violence between parties may be admissible in sexual offence proceedings
- provide that the presumption of bail does not apply to certain sexual offences in the Crimes Act 1900
- omit section 80D of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1991 which requires consideration of the reasonableness of a mistaken belief as to consent
- provide that self-induced intoxication cannot be considered in determining whether the accused person had knowledge, recklessness, or a reasonable belief as to consent
- allow special interim Personal Protection Orders and Workplace Protection Orders which will operate for longer than 12 months where there are ongoing related criminal proceedings.
Information about the SAPR report and support services available in the ACT is available here: https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/sexual-assault-prevention-and-response