Page 1906 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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of these we are already acting on, and I anticipate having legislation ready this year. Some key points I wish to highlight as areas where the government has agreed and will move swiftly are ensuring that evidence of previous family violence is admissible in sexual assault cases, which is flagged in recommendation 23(E); introducing a presumption that the courtroom is closed when a victim is giving evidence about sexual assault, arising from recommendation 23(H); and providing that self-induced intoxication cannot be considered in determining whether the accused had knowledge or recklessness about consent, from recommendation 23(L).

These are only some of the very important recommendations that will allow us to transform the court process to be more empowering and validating. It boils down to the core of what we need to tell victim-survivors in our words and in our actions: we believe you. I also wish to refer members and the public to the government’s response on some of the more complex legal issues raised by the recommendations, particularly in relation to issues such as presumptions in favour of imprisonment. The government has responded to these recommendations by noting them for further consideration.

Presumptions in favour of custodial sentences clearly sit in some tension with other areas of government policy and require a comprehensive analysis of the reasoning and expected outcomes. I wish to flag that these are further difficult conversations we will need to have with victim-survivors and the wider community on how we respond to these abhorrent crimes and how we think through the recommendations that have been identified in the report.

But the core of what we, as a community, are working towards is prevention before something goes wrong. That requires strong, community-based programs to build understanding of the importance of consent and the right that each of us has to bodily autonomy. I think the remarks made by Minister Berry this morning highlighted the other issues, beyond the legal reform, that are a very important part of how the government responds in this report.

Law reform is an important part of the picture, as we know here, having recently voted in favour of a communicative and affirmative model of consent, but it is not the whole picture. The whole picture means that we must do everything we can to prevent. We can only do that through deep conversations with the community and, in having those deep conversations, changing culture, expectations and understanding. That is why I am so pleased this work is happening, and I am very pleased about the various budget initiatives canvassed by Minister Berry.

I wish to close by thanking everyone who contributed to this report. Whether your experience is personal, professional or another, I thank you for contributing to this work to improve the safety of our community. The report is difficult to read, as has been noted at various times, in how much trauma it represents. But, clearly, it is even harder to have lived that trauma and to re-live it so that others may understand. To all contributors: you have given us in the government and the broader community something very personal, and we know how important it is to get this right. We will do everything we can, as the government, as members of this Assembly, to keep faith with your trust.

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