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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1916 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

not the most effective one, primarily because people, both as victims and in victim support services, do not know enough about drink spiking to avoid it, report it when it occurs or even recognise that it has happened. The aim of my motion is to bring this abhorrent crime to the attention of the Assembly and the community and to bring the community together to work on ways of educating the population and those most at risk about drink spiking. I hope that this motion will be a further step in creating some real and lasting solutions to this sad problem.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that every weekend in Canberra 30 people have their drinks spiked, but there are few hard figures. There are many reasons why that is so. Drink spiking often occurs in large, noisy and crowded clubs where drinks are left unattended by people on the dance floor or are purchased by strangers. In such circumstances, it is often very hard to verify or even remember the events leading up to the drinks being spiked. If alcohol is involved, it is likely that the victim will claim that they had too much to drink. If a victim of drink spiking does not even know to suspect such a crime, they may never even contemplate that they have been the victim of a drink spiker.

If the victim wakes up disoriented in a strange place, they may not comprehend that they have been sexually assaulted and may put the whole experience down to a big night out. If the victim does recognise that they have been assaulted, they may be very reluctant to report it. Rape victims are generally reluctant to report rape, date rape victims more so, and victims under the influence of drugs or alcohol are even less likely to report what has happened. Feelings of blame and shame often contribute to this reluctance, especially if the victim can justify it by explaining that they had one too many, or if they are afraid that their report is going to be met with accusations of being too drunk to know what happened or, worse, having asked for it.

On the occasions that the crime resulting from drink spiking is reported, the victim's memory is affected by the drugs and they can rarely remember their attacker or the exact circumstances, so no-one is ever prosecuted. Often workers in victim support services are unable to verify whether drink spiking has taken place or it does not cross their minds to ask. Often blood tests and urine analyses are ineffective in confirming reports of drink spiking because of delays in reporting or testing. If support services do receive a report of drink spiking, there is no official procedure for reporting that to the AFP, especially if the victim does not go on to press charges. If the victim does press charges, the crime that is recorded is usually assault or theft, not the drink spiking, and because of the difficulty in proving drink spiking and the availability of the often legal drugs used, it is difficult to specifically prosecute the crime.

As you can see, Mr Speaker, there are many factors that work together to obscure the truth about drink spiking in the ACT, but there are some facts that we do know. We know that liquor licensing and other agencies have had over 60 email reports of drink spiking. We know that prescription drugs, as well as illegal drugs, are used and that they tend to be either sedatives or stimulants. We know that both women and men are the victims of drink spiking and that victims tend to be nightclub patrons and dance party-goers. We know that the ACT is not the only region that suffers from the problem of drink spiking and we know that something must be done.

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