Page 978 - Week 03 - Thursday, 30 March 2023

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

On 12 October last year, the standing committee resolved to undertake an inquiry into the bill. The government welcomed this inquiry, as it provided an opportunity for public discussion about the prevention of, and response to, sexual assault and sexual violence in the territory. The standing committee invited submissions on the amendments to the bill and published its report on 7 December 2022. The government thanks the standing committee for its report and has considered its five recommendations.

The government notes and welcomes the recommendation for the Assembly to pass the Sexual Assault Reform Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. This recommendation provides recognition by the standing committee of the ongoing need to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual violence in the community by the introduction of progressive and considered law reform.

The government has agreed in principle to the committee’s recommendation that the government include a specific reference to people with disability, in care relationships and residential settings, in the proposed legislative changes to make evidence of prior family violence between parties relevant and admissible. This recommendation aligns with the government response to the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee report, Listen. Take action to prevent, believe and heal, which the government is actively considering.

As noted in the government response, consultation with stakeholders has highlighted the need to carefully define the meaning of “care relationship” in both the Family Violence Act 2016 and the Personal Violence Act 2016, and the government is taking time to ensure further consultation can occur and inform the most appropriate definition of “care relationship” to give effect to the intent of the recommendation.

The government has agreed to three of the other recommendations of the standing committee’s report, which are: that the ACT government consider if the bail amendments proposed in the bill should also apply to subsections 62(1) and 62(2), and sections 64 and 66 of the Crimes Act 1900 to ensure a consistent approach; that the government monitor and evaluate the impact on perpetrators from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and that the explanatory statement for the bill be amended to include an explanation of the terms “victim” and “victim-survivor” and the context in which they are used.

In relation to the first of the agreed recommendations, the government considers it appropriate to explore the extension of the bail amendments to the listed offences. These offences are considered serious sexual offences and include: subsection 62(1) and (2)—incest and similar offences; section 64—using a child for the production of child exploitation material; and section 66—grooming and depraving young people. The impact of this change will be that the presumption of bail does not apply to the offences, thereby creating a neutral presumption of bail. This will align the bail presumption with the presumption that applies to other serious sexual offences currently listed in the Bail Act 1992.

In agreeing to this recommendation, the ACT government recognises the policy intent of the related recommendations in the Listen. Take action to prevent, believe and

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video