ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Bill to Amend Crimes Act finally introduces Affirmative Model to ACT

8 February 2022

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) this week welcomes Dr Marisa Paterson MLA’s Crimes (Consent) Amendment Bill 2022 to be presented to the ACT Legislative Assembly. The Bill introduces a new definition of consent based on free and voluntary agreement and acknowledges that consent must not be assumed.

Dr Gemma Killen, ACTCOSS Head of Policy said: “The implementation of legislation to address the egregious prevalence of sexual violence in our community is hugely important and will make a difference in many people’s lives.

“Clarifying the bounds of affirmative consent is essential for forging a culture of safe, consensual, and respectful relationships in the ACT and broader community. This amendment will also lead to better support and legal protection for victim-survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“Increased legal requirements around active provision of consent will bring the law into line with our expectations of acceptable behaviour and ensure greater communication around consent. The coupling of this reform with improved community education and awareness programs is fundamental to primary prevention of sexual violence in our community,” Dr Killen said.

An exposure draft of the Bill was released in June 2021 and while supportive, ACTCOSS expressed some concerns.

Dr Killen said: “We were initially concerned by language included in the draft that may have criminalised transgender people for not disclosing gender history prior to sexual relationships.

“After consultation with Dr Paterson, explicit wording has been included to offer explicit protections against transphobic behaviour and to recognise that transgender people are not inherently fraudulent or deceptive.

“As Canberrans, we should be proud of the work this legislation does to protect us all from sexual assault and violence,” Dr Killen concluded.

The Bill will be tabled in the Legislative Assembly this week and referred to the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety for review.

ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations. Follow us @ACTCOSS on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For more information or comment, please contact
Dr Gemma Killen, Head of Policy, ACTCOSS, on 0404 024 913.