Victorian legislation overturning gag law a positive step forwards: Our Watch
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
Today, Victorian Parliament made significant changes to Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill, meaning families who have lost loved ones who were victims of sexual assault will no longer need a court order to speak about them publicly.
Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said that the amendment was a complex process that needed to strike the right balance between ensuring that victim-survivors could tell their own story, and respecting the needs of grieving families.
“There are some families who very much want to share their story publicly and others who do not; the main thing is that all families should have control over how the stories of their loved ones are told,” Ms Kinnersly said.
“We commend the Victorian Government for working with the Victim Survivors Advisory Council and advocates to rework the bill.
“Victim-survivors should be at the centre of legislation and policies that impact them, and adjustments should be made in accordance with their feedback.”
Ms Kinnersly said the revisions of the Bill would now allow families to apply for a victim privacy order to suppress a story in situations where media reporting had caused them distress, but media organisations also needed to take their responsibility for respectful and considered reporting on violence against women seriously.
“Media plays a crucial role in dispelling myths around violence against women and helping the public understand that preventing violence is possible,” Ms Kinnersly said.
“Too often we hear stories where families of deceased victims have had the reputations of loved ones tarnished by rape myths, or been retraumatised by unethical reporting.”
She said the media must use its position of influence to help prevent violence against women.
“The media has a key role in challenging underlying attitudes that excuse or condone violence against women, and promoting community awareness and understanding of what drives violence against women.
“Good reporting means being respectful, using appropriate experts, providing context of the issue and including helplines like 1800 RESPECT.
“This legislation is a positive step forward to make sure that those who have been killed by violence are not forgotten, but media must also understand and do its part in preventing violence through accurate and safe reporting.”