Law Council welcomes national dialogue on sexual consent laws
27 July 2023
Law Council representatives, including its President Mr Luke Murphy, have appeared today before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s (Committee’s) inquiry into current and proposed sexual consent laws in Australia. The Law Council welcomes the Committee’s in-depth consideration of the extent to which efforts to harmonise, clarify and educate concepts of consent can be improved.
“While there is increasing convergence across jurisdictions towards sexual consent requiring some form of ongoing and mutual communication, views may differ on the degree to which legislative approaches across jurisdictions accommodate this model, and the degree of change required in order to promote consistency.”
“In particular, members of the legal profession, like the broader community, have a range of opinions on the most appropriate legislative approach to defining sexual consent, noting that these issues have been considered in detail by several jurisdictions in recent years, resulting in significant state and territory-based law reform processes and changes to the law,” said Mr Murphy.
“It is clearly a problem that sexual offences are under-reported and that such matters experience a high degree of attrition within the criminal justice system”, said Mr Murphy. “It is critically important to better understand and address these issues.”
“The Law Council continues to call for a range of broad measures to be considered in addition to consideration of any legislative reform, by the Committee. These include significant and meaningful investment in the justice system, supports for complainants in sexual assault trials, restorative justice options, and investment in specialist legal assistance services for women, children and young people, and people with disability.”
“There also needs to be significant additional investment in education, which is tailored to diverse groups’ needs and experiences,” Mr Murphy said.
“This is an important, and in many senses overdue, national conversation”, said Mr Murphy.
“Beyond the current Committee inquiry, the Law Council looks forward to continuing to engage in the continuing national dialogue, including by participating in the forthcoming Ministerial roundtable on addressing sexual violence, and responding to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence.”
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