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Inquiry into legal responses to sexual violence

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A national year-long inquiry by the Australian Law Reform Commission will examine legal responses to sexual violence cases.
legal responses to sexual violence

A national year-long inquiry will examine legal responses to sexual violence cases.

The inquiry, launched today by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), will also look into how the system impacts victims, including in settings like court proceedings.

According to a survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than one in five women have experienced sexual violence since turning 15.

Legal responses to sexual violence

The inquiry was prompted by a roundtable discussion in 2023 between government ministers, victim-survivors, and advocacy groups.

Overall, roundtable attendees discussed legal responses to sexual violence and how the justice system is set up — including abuse reporting processes, police investigations, and criminal and legal proceedings.

Afterwards, these discussions informed the scope of issues (called the ‘terms of reference’) the inquiry will cover.

Terms of reference

The ALRC will consider training and development for judges, police, and lawyers to facilitate “trauma-informed and culturally safe justice responses”.

The inquiry will also look into how minority groups are impacted by the justice system after reporting sexual violence. This includes:

  • First Nations people
  • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • People with a disability
  • Members of the LGBTQIA+ community
  • People employed in sex work.

Responses

CEO of Full Stop Australia Karen Bevan said the inquiry needs to “centre victim-survivors and stop re-traumatisation and victim-blaming throughout the justice system process.”

Additionally, Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said that “seeking justice shouldn’t add to the trauma for victims”.

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