Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

New sexual violence legislation a ‘powerful step in supporting victim-survivors’

Victoria’s new sexual violence legislation has been praised by Women’s Legal Service Victoria (Women’s Legal) as a “powerful step in supporting victim-survivors of sexual violence”.

user iconJess Feyder 08 August 2022 The Bar
New sexual violence legislation a ‘powerful step in supporting victim-survivors’
expand image

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Bill 2022 was introduced on 4 August. It includes amendments that adopt an affirmative consent model, which requires a person seeking to engage in sexual activity to actively confirm consent. 

A person is required to take steps to find out if the person consents, either by saying something (asking verbally) or receiving a non-verbal cue (e.g., the person reciprocates by removing clothing).

Their belief in consent must also be informed by all occurrences in the interaction, including any physical or verbal gesture that withdraws consent, or negative facial reactions.


The reform reflects an ongoing national conversation about consent, which has been driven by brave survivor advocates, Women’s Legal said in a statement. 

In Victoria, the law is changing to better reflect community attitudes and expectations about free and voluntary consent, they said. 

Women’s Legal has advocated strongly for an approach to consent reform that considers the alleged sexual offending in the context of a pattern of abuse and controlling behaviour, along with a strengthened definition of consent.

“In a relationship involving family violence, sexual abuse is often part of a pattern of violence and controlling behaviour across multiple aspects of a victim-survivor’s life,” noted Serina McDuff, chief executive of Women’s Legal.

“The fear of force or harm felt by a victim-survivor of family violence can be ongoing,” she stated. “It can be maintained by the accused through subtle and non-verbal ways, meaning that consent for sexual activity is not given freely and voluntarily.

“It is critical that our sexual assault laws consider the broader context of the relationship when determining free and voluntary consent to engage in sexual activity. We believe the proposed legislation does this.

“It is essential that the criminal and civil justice systems’ response to family violence is informed by a common understanding of the nature of family violence and its impact on victim-survivors.

“We commend the Victorian government for introducing this long overdue change and we look forward to working with them on enhancing education and support to victim-survivors.”

The legislation forms part of an ongoing commitment to develop the whole-of-government 10-year strategy to address sexual violence and harm. 

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!