Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 19 September 2017) . . Page.. 3872 ..
I do think it will be necessary that the relevant area of Justice and Community Safety consider some community promotion activities and possibly some direct communication with a range of services. I also think there would be scope for working with our local bars and pubs on these changes.
As Mr Hanson rightly identified, there are serious consequences in this legislation. We certainly believe there should be; we believe this is a serious social problem that warrants a response under the criminal law. But in bringing in such a serious offence, we need a degree of awareness-raising about this. I think there would be a number of avenues that we could think about to pursue that, and I would be pleased to see the Justice and Community Safety Directorate give some strong consideration to how that might be done. I am particularly mindful of our younger students as they come through the programs that cover similar areas, whether they might include a component there. I will simply leave that thought as part of this debate, but I think there is great value in ensuring that members of the community understand their rights and obligations around drink spiking.
What I would say at the end of this discussion is that if you suspect you are a victim, you should be supported to understand that there is legal recourse available to you. This law may also go some way to changing the attitudes and behaviours of the negative aspect of our heavy binge-drinking culture. It is not okay to try to reduce somebody’s capacity to make decisions by simply plying them with alcohol. This legislation makes it clear that that is a crime, that it has serious consequences. I thank the Attorney for bringing this bill forward. It is an important protection for people in our community who otherwise might be taken advantage of. The Greens are pleased to support this legislation.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (11.56): I am pleased to be able to support the passage of this bill that creates two new offences of food and drink spiking.
As the Minister for Women and the first ACT Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, I think that this is a very serious issue and all of us need to take it very seriously. These are offences which impact women at a higher rate in our community. As a government, we have committed as a priority to making our community safer. We are doing so through a whole bunch of different and new initiatives. We are asking our whole community to help us to do that. But sometimes we need to do more than just ask for it and patiently work towards behaviour change; sometimes we need to change the laws so that offences exist in legislation that protect the victims of food or drink spiking.
Research conducted in 2004 on drink spiking by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that in that year there were an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 incidents of drink spiking; one third of these incidents were linked to sexual assault; four out of five victims of drink spiking were female; about two-thirds to three-quarters of incidents occurred at a licensed premises; and the vast majority of victims were aged under 34 years.