Page 2761 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 16 August 2017

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My bill gives effect to all of the elements of the national statement of principles and addresses the underlying and consequential problems with the ACT’s approach to consent, privacy and child protection. I would like to change the structure of the Crimes Act to help the language and discourse of the public towards a more privacy and rights focused approach. Today I commit to continuing this work.

I am very pleased to have a commitment from the government and the Liberals to revisit the outstanding issues such as consent, privacy, and child protection, in my bill over the coming months.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has just released its report into sexual assaults on university campuses, and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reported back earlier this week. These reports will have huge ramifications for how the ACT deals with these issues. Our work and the work of everyone who wrote submissions will feed into these government reviews.

I believe that the government should commit to further reform and show the community it is serious about delivering real reforms to our criminal justice system and delivering real justice to victims of domestic and sexual abuse and victims of egregious breaches of their right to privacy, and that is why I am pleased that Mr Gentleman, on behalf of the attorney, has made reference to further reforms today.

There is a lot of work to do, and we must do more than talk about it. We must get on with it. A committed time frame from the government will help us to achieve that. I will be tabling a separate bill which specifically addresses the issue of consent and proposes a positive definition of consent to apply to non-consensual sharing of intimate images, invasion of privacy offences and relevant sexual offences. It is clear that there is an appetite for this debate in our community. Overwhelmingly, the vast majority of submissions we received supported a positive definition of consent. Many stakeholders supported a definition of consent where a person gives free and voluntary agreement, and the other person knows that the agreement was freely given and is satisfied to that extent.

I am, however, heeding advice from the Human Rights Commission, who indicated that the legal definition of consent in particular is a sensitive area of law that requires careful consideration before being changed. Any major change will require in-depth analysis and extensive consultation before a position can be formed and amendments developed. In their view the proposals with regard to amending the current definition of consent would benefit from detailed consideration separate from today’s reforms in relation to non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

I acknowledge that this is a very complex issue that will require significant input and feedback from legal experts, stakeholders and individuals. I reiterate, however, that overwhelmingly the feedback I received from stakeholders in my consultation process on the Crimes (Invasion of Privacy) Amendment Bill 2017 tells us that these reforms are necessary and will be welcomed.

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