On 28 November 2019, the Sexual Offences (Evidence and Procedure) Amendment Bill 2019 (NT) (the “Bill”) was introduced to NT’s Legislative Assembly (the “Assembly”) by the Hon Nicole Manison. The Bill was immediately referred to the Legislation Scrutiny Committee for report by 24 March 2020. The Bill proposes amendments to:
reports the proposed amendments “will allow sexual assault survivors... to share their own stories without fear of prosecution in the Northern Territory”.
Currently, in the NT (and Tasmania), it is a crime to name sexual assault victims, even with their consent, or for survivors to identify themselves as such. The proposed amendments to the NT legislation will help survivors speak out.
The Minister“… it's time the Territory's laws were modernised and brought into line with other jurisdictions — this [Bill] will do that”.
Speaking about the the proposed legislation, the:
said the current NT laws have “an important role to play to protect the privacy, safety and welfare of sexual assault survivors, [but] they could also reinforce stigma and shame associated with sexual assault” and that the proposed changes “struck a balance between protecting the privacy of survivors and the right for victims to tell their own stories”.
The proposed amendments include:
, a sexual assault survivor advocate, welcomed the Bill and said by not allowing sexual assault survivors to speak freely to the media under their own names, silenced them — which contributed to a sense of powerlessness and increased social stigma. Commenting on this issue, Ms Funnell said:
Ms Funnell also said that by allowing survivors the opportunity to share their stories could also help educate others:
In August 2019,(from Tasmania), won the right to self-identify in the media and was the first sexual abuse survivor in that state to be allowed to do so, but only after Ms Tame applied for an exemption in the form of a court order from the Supreme Court.
The Bill has been referred to the Legislation Scrutiny Committee (the “Committee”), which will examine the legislation and determine whether it should be passed or amended. The Committee will also consider public submissions, and report back to NT Parliament with its recommendations in March 2020.
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Sexual Offences (Evidence and Procedure) Amendment Bill 2019 (NT) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase LawOne Service.
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