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New bill introduced to further support victim-survivors

A new bill introduced to Parliament this week will further allow the stories of victim-survivors to be shared after they are deceased.

user iconLauren Croft 04 August 2021 Politics
Victorian parliament
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In a bid to further support victims of sexual offences and their families, the Andrews Labor government has introduced a bill that will allow victim-survivors and their families to tell their stories, while allowing surviving relatives their privacy.

The Judicial Proceedings Reports Amendment Bill 2021, introduced to Parliament on Monday, aims to make sure that it is “lawful to publish identifying details of a deceased victim of a sexual offence, provided doing so does not identify another victim-survivor who wishes to remain anonymous,” according to a statement from the Andrews government.

The new reforms were developed after extensive consultations with victim-survivors, family members of deceased victims, community leaders, sexual assault support services and legal and media stakeholders. They will allow families and friends of victims to speak freely about incidents, without worrying whether they are committing an offence.


Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said the changes would support increased awareness of sexual and gender-based violence, reduce stigma towards victims of sexual offending and assist police with investigating these heinous crimes.

“Every time we speak up against sexual assault, it becomes easier for others to speak about it too,” she said.

“It’s important that our justice system supports this to happen while respecting the wishes of those who want to remain private.”

In instances where a family wants ongoing protection of their deceased loved one’s identity, the bill will establish a victim privacy order (VPO) scheme, which will allow a family member, partner or close friend of a deceased sexual offence victim to apply for a VPO to protect their identity and privacy.

Importantly, a convicted or alleged perpetrator cannot apply, even if they are a family member or close friend. Additionally, a VPO will only be granted where absolutely necessary – to avoid “undue distress” to the person applying for the order and if that distress outweighs public interest concerns.

“These reforms have been created thanks to the bravery of victim-survivors, families and advocates – I thank them for their insights on how to strike the right balance on this extremely difficult, emotional and personal issue,” Ms Symes added.

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