26 September 2023

Intimate consent laws to be made clearer

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The Territory is to move to an affirmative consent model with reforms to sexual consent laws passing the Legislative Assembly.

Announced by Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury, the Crimes (Consent) Amendment Bill 2022 introduced a legal definition of consent into the Crimes Act 1900 where consent is based on a free and voluntary agreement.

Mr Rattenbury said the Bill brought ACT laws into line with contemporary community attitudes around sexual consent.

“By making it clear that consent needs to be sought and given, it changes the status quo when it to comes to engaging in sexual activity,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“No longer are we presuming that a person is consenting unless the indicate they are not,” he said.

“The Bill expressly recognises that consent is not to be presumed, that people have a right to choose not to participate in sexual activity, and that when engaging in consensual sexual activity it involves ongoing and mutual communication and decision-making.”

Mr Rattenbury said the change delivered on a recommendation from the ACT’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee’s Final Report by introducing an affirmative and communicative model of consent in the ACT.

“Law reform, like the changes in this Private Member’s Bill, are critical,” the Attorney-General said.

“However, they are just one part of the work that is needed to prevent and better respond to sexual violence.”

He said the Territory was currently preparing its response to the 24 recommendations in the Steering Committee’s Final Report.

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