Draft legislation designed to provide victims of sexual crimes with the right to speak out about their experiences and a paper detailing proposed changes to the names of sexual offences that better reflect the true nature of the crimes will today be released for public comment.
Section 194K of the Evidence Act 2001 currently prohibits the identification of complainants in sexual offence proceedings without a court order, including when the person is an adult at the time of publication and consents to being identified.
The draft Evidence Amendment Bill 2020 will provide for the publication of identifying information about a victim of a sexual crime where, prior to publication, the victim:
- has authorised the publication in writing;
- is at least 18 years of age at the time of the publication;
- was not coerced into agreeing to the publication; and
- does not have a mental impairment that would make them incapable of reasonable judgment in respect of the publication.
There will also be safeguards to ensure appropriate protections for victims who do not wish to be identified and an offence for breach of the prohibition.
The release of the Bill and the paper proposing changes to the names of sexual offences in Chapter XIV of the Criminal Code are significant steps towards improving support for victims of crime as well as striking the right balance between the rights of victims who wish to speak out and those who do not consent or do not have capacity.
The Hodgman majority Liberal Government also acknowledges the bravery of victims and survivors of sexual abuse who have spoken about their experiences and is acting on their expressed beliefs that the names of these crimes can minimise the seriousness of the trauma they have experienced.
Language used in the crime of ‘Maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person’ contrary to Section 125A of the Criminal Code no longer reflects community expectations and understanding.
The proposed changes to the names of some crimes will ensure that the language of Tasmania’s child sexual abuse crimes appropriately reflect the offending behaviour.
Both documents are available at www.justice.tas.gov.au/community-consultation.