#LetHerSpeak sex assault victim legislation drags on
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.”