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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 November 2021) . . Page.. 3904 ..

Set the standard—report

Legislation—Crimes (Consent) Amendment Bill 2021

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (5.31): Before I start my substantive speech, I want to—

Members interjecting

MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Cheyne and Mrs Kikkert, I am going to ask you both to have the courtesy of leaving, if you are going to keep interjecting across the table. Dr Paterson has the call.

DR PATERSON: Before I start my substantive speech, I want to acknowledge in the Assembly that the independent review titled Set the standard: report on the independent review into commonwealth parliamentary workplaces conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and led by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has just been released.

The word trending on Twitter to describe the findings of this report is “appalling”, with the report finding that one in three people in Parliament House had experienced sexual harassment, 77 per cent witnessed or experienced bullying, and there were those that were sexually assaulted in their workplace. These findings are appalling. As we are days into the 16 days of activism to eliminate violence against women, it is important that we continue our activism well past the 16 days and well past the boundaries of Parliament House.

As this is the last sitting week for the Assembly this year, I want to provide an update on my Crimes (Consent) Amendment Bill. In June this year, I released a draft exposure bill for public comment. Sexual violence has been an issue that has been very much at the forefront of public debate in Australia since the beginning of this year. One of the pivotal calls for change is to reform laws to implement a communicative or affirmative model of consent. My bill proposes exactly that.

Earlier this month, New South Wales passed affirmative consent legislation in a bill that was very similar to mine. Also last month, Victoria announced its intention to introduce an affirmative model of consent in 2022. I am very passionate about and remain committed to seeing this happen in the ACT.

Over the four-week period of public consultation on my draft bill, I received detailed submissions from 14 groups and individuals and have subsequently met with many key stakeholders to discuss matters in more detail. This year, Minister Berry established the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, and I have presented to its working group on law reform.

An overarching steering committee to this working group led by community and sector experts is providing a holistic approach to the prevention of and response to sexual assault in the ACT. I believe this coordinated and collaborative approach is critical to deliver the best outcomes for our community, and I am committed to this process. I eagerly await the recommendations from the working group.

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