The ACT Government is taking action to strengthen and improve how the criminal justice system responds to sexual violence, including by enhancing victim-survivors’ access to justice, and improving safety.
The Bill is the first stage of law reforms led by the ACT Government stemming from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee report, Listen. Take Action to Prevent, Believe and Heal.
“This report highlighted just how much work there is to do to deliver a justice system that works for victim-survivors. The system must change,” Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said.
“The Sexual Assault Reform Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, which I will introduce into the Assembly today, will help align the ACT’s laws and justice system with community attitudes and expectations.
“It is vital that we reduce the further traumatisation of victim-survivors when they have contact with the justice system as well as address under-reporting and barriers to accessing justice by providing consistent and clear treatment under the law.”
The Government has been working with a range of stakeholders to develop this first tranche of reforms. This Bill 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 against young people;
- provide that self-induced intoxication cannot be considered in determining whether the accused person had knowledge, recklessness or a reasonable belief as to consent; and
- allow for special interim Personal Protection Orders and Workplace Protection Orders, which will operate for longer than 12 months where there are ongoing related criminal proceedings.
In May, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed reforms to sexual consent laws in the territory, ensuring that consent to sexual activity is freely and voluntarily given and subject to informed agreement.
Please contact Canberra RapeCrisis Centre on 02 6247 2525, 7am-11pm, 7 days a week if you need support.