Consent reform welcomed by Women’s Legal

Friday August 5, 2022
Reform recognises the nature and impact of family violence .

Women’s Legal Service Victoria welcomes the introduction of legislation to reform consent laws. The law will now require a person seeking to engage in sexual activity to actively confirm consent.   

“This is a powerful step in supporting victim-survivors of sexual violence,” said Serina McDuff, CEO of Women’s Legal Service Victoria.

This reform reflects the ongoing national conversation about consent which has been driven by brave survivor advocates. In Victoria the law is changing to better reflect community attitudes and expectations about free and voluntary consent.

Women’s Legal advocated strongly for an approach to consent reform which 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. The fear of force or harm felt by a victim-survivor of family violence can be ongoing. 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 supports to victim- survivors,” said Ms McDuff.

MEDIA CONTACT: Serina McDuff [email protected]

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