Hon John Quigley LLB JP MLA

Hon John Quigley LLB JP MLA

Attorney General; Minister for Electoral Affairs

Hon Sue Ellery BA MLC

Hon Sue Ellery BA MLC

Minister for Finance; Commerce; Women's Interests

    Views sought on overhauling WA’s sexual offence laws

    20/12/2022 3:00 PM
     
    • Law Reform Commission seeks submissions for review of sexual offence laws
    • Commission releases first volume of Discussion Paper and Background Paper
    • Issues include defining consent, defence of mistaken belief in consent, jury directions

    The McGowan Government is calling on Western Australians to make their views known about whether the State's sexual offence laws need updating.

     

    The Law Reform Commission is seeking public submissions as part of a review that is considering the need for reforms to reflect changes in community expectations about sexual offending.

     

    Attorney General John Quigley instructed the Commission to conduct the review in February.

     

    The review is open for submissions in response to the first volume of a Discussion Paper and a Background Paper, both published today.

     

    Volume 1 of the Discussion Paper:

    • examines the definition of consent in sexual offences, and asks whether WA law should use an affirmative model of consent;
    • considers whether the defence of mistaken belief in consent should be amended or restricted in sexual offence cases;
    • examines the directions that judges typically give juries in sexual offence trials and considers whether these should be changed in any way; and
    • summarises and compares changes recently made to sexual offence laws interstate and overseas.

    The document also cites preliminary views sought from a range of stakeholders on relevant issues.

     

    The Background Paper was commissioned from legal experts with the intent of helping stakeholders better understand the issues in this area of law. The paper reflects the views of the authors rather than those of the Commission.

     

    Volume 2 of the Discussion Paper will deal with substantive offences and their maximum penalties. It will be published in February 2023.

     

    The Commission is an independent statutory authority which examines laws on any matter referred to it by the Attorney General, who tables its reports in Parliament. Government considers the recommendations of the Commission but is not bound by them.

     

    The Commission is chaired by former Supreme Court judge the Hon Lindy Jenkins.

     

    Volume 1 of the Discussion Paper and the Background Paper as well as information on making a submission can be accessed at the Commission's website here:

    https://www.wa.gov.au/government/announcements/discussion-paper-project-113-sexual-offences

     

    The deadline for submissions for Volume 1 is Friday, 17 March 2023.

     

    The Commission will make recommendations in its final report, due 1 July 2023.

     

    The Department of Justice, through the Office of the Commissioner for Victims of Crime, is conducting a separate review of the end-to-end criminal justice process for victims of sexual offending.

     

    This review will include its own community consultation process.

     

    Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:

     

    "The Law Reform Commission's review is addressing deeply-held community concerns by examining ways sexual offence laws can be modernised.

     

    "This consultation period is a critical opportunity for stakeholders and the public to have their say on whether and how we should change these laws."

     

    Comments attributed to Women's Interests Minister Sue Ellery:

     

    "We want our laws to support and protect victim-survivors as well as ensure the effective prosecution of offenders.

     

    "I urge victim-survivors to have their say and help us deliver updated sexual offence laws that are fit for purpose and make the experience of interacting with the criminal justice system as respectful and empowering as possible."

     

    Comments attributed to Law Reform Commission Chair the Hon Lindy Jenkins:

     

    "The first volume of the Discussion Paper contains questions which will assist people in responding to the matters that it raises about sexual offence laws.

     

    "I urge all interested parties to make a submission so the Commission can be fully apprised of community sentiment when making recommendations in its final report."

     

    Attorney General's office - 6552 6800

    Women's Interests Minister's office - 6552 5700