#LetHerS­peak sex as­sault vic­tim leg­is­la­tion drags on

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - DAVID KIL­LICK

CHANGES to the law al­low­ing sex­ual as­sault vic­tims to speak pub­licly about their or­deal will not hap­pen un­til next year — de­spite the Gov­ern­ment say­ing months ago they were a pri­or­ity.

The #LetHerS­peak cam­paign, led by Tas­ma­nian abuse sur­vivor Grace Tame, has pushed for changes to the Ev­i­dence Act which si­lences vic­tims. In Septem­ber, At­tor­neyGen­eral Elise Archer said these were a pri­or­ity for the Gov­ern­ment.

On Thurs­day, she said a draft Bill would be re­leased for con­sul­ta­tion in the next two weeks so that it could be in­tro­duced to Par­lia­ment in the new year.

Ms Archer said vic­tims would need to be aged over 18, au­tho­rise any pub­li­ca­tion in writ­ing, and not be co­erced into agree­ing to the pub­li­ca­tion. There also would be safe­guards to pro­tect vic­tims who did not want their iden­ti­ties known.

“It takes im­mense courage for sur­vivors of sex­ual crimes to speak about their ex­pe­ri­ence, and the Gov­ern­ment recog­nises that some mem­bers of the com­mu­nity have ex­pressed con­cerns that sec­tion 194K of the Ev­i­dence Act 2001 may not cur­rently strike the right bal­ance and is too oner­ous,” Ms Archer said.

“We be­lieve what is be­ing pro­posed is the most bal­anced ap­proach to reform and more con­sis­tent with ex­emp­tion pro­vi­sions in most ju­ris­dic­tions.”

The Tas­ma­nia Law Reform In­sti­tute rec­om­mended in 2015 that the state’s laws change to al­low pub­li­ca­tion of iden­ti­fy­ing ma­te­rial with the per­mis­sion of sur­vivors aged 18 and older.

La­bor Jus­tice spokes­woman Ella Had­dad said the Gov­ern­ment had been too slow to act.

“La­bor is dis­ap­pointed that we couldn’t use the last sit­ting weeks of 2019 to de­bate mean­ing­ful law re­forms to pro­tect vic­tims of sex­ual abuse and the #LetHerS­peak cam­paign” she said. “We also wanted to progress La­bor’s pol­icy to re­name the of­fence that dis­grace­fully im­plies con­sent be­tween child sex of­fend­ers and their vic­tims.

“In­stead, the Gov­ern­ment chose to play pol­i­tics, by in­tro­duc­ing badly writ­ten Bills that have been re­jected by Par­lia­ment and the courts be­fore.

“The Lib­er­als’ pri­or­i­ties are all wrong.”

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