Women’s safety groups persuade NSW government to lead sexual assault reforms

26 May 2021

The NSW Government will announce new reforms following unprecedented rates of sexual assault.

The news comes six months after the Law Reform Commission finished its detailed review, according to Mirage News.

NSW women’s safety organisations wrote to Premier Gladys Berejiklian last month demanding nine reforms which would tackle the rising problem.

These would include an affirmative model of sexual consent, specialisation of all courts hearing sexual assault matters, and comprehensive consent education in NSW schools.

Women’s Safety NSW said sex abusers need to be held to account to prevent them re-offending.

This organisation and partner agencies are calling for specialisation of all courts hearing sexual assault matters.

The Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program is seen as a positive model which is available for sexual assault matters involving a child complainant in Sydney and Newcastle registries. It involves specially trained prosecutors and judicial officers, evidence and procedural improvements to make it quicker and easier to give evidence and to improve the ability to admit the accused’s past conduct, and support for complainants throughout the process by witness intermediaries.

Alongside legislative changes, women’s safety organisations and advocates are calling for more consent education in all NSW schools.

Women’s Safety NSW said young males aged 15-19 have the highest rates of sex offending and young females aged 15-19 have the highest rates of victimisation, in reference to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Recorded Crime Statistics for 2019.

Other key recommendations in the nine-point plan include ensuring sexual assault complainants have access to specialist case management support, that older women in aged-care facilities are adequately protected.