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Queensland to change sexual assault laws

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New Queensland legislation will focus on supporting victim-survivors during criminal trials, and add new offences for adult abusers.
New Queensland legislation

Queensland is set to change its sexual assault laws, to allow victims of sexual assault and domestic violence to give pre-recorded evidence in court.

The change is part of broader reforms introduced in Queensland Parliament this week, aimed at improving how courts deal with sexual, domestic and family violence.

The draft legislation also includes suggested penalties for adults in a “position of authority”, like teachers and doctors, who sexually abuse teenagers in their care.

New Queensland legislation

The Queensland Government has proposed legislation to support victim-survivors, child witnesses and people with a disability giving evidence in a criminal trial.

Under the reforms, courts would accept pre-recorded evidence, or allow victims and witnesses to give evidence in a different room to an alleged perpetrator.

State Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said Queensland needs to ensure that victim-survivors “are not further traumatised by going through the legal process”.

The changes would allow expert evidence to be given in sexual offence trials, “to dispel myths about how victim-survivors might be expected to behave at the time of or after the offence has been committed”.

The legislation also plans to extend the duration of non-contact orders – a court-issued mandate to ban an offender from contacting or seeing a victim – from two to five years.

The reforms were proposed by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, which was established by the State Government in 2021.

Child protection

A penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment for adults who abuse 16 or 17-year-olds under their “care, supervision, or authority” has also been proposed.

The measure is aimed at protecting young people above the age of consent (16-years-old). It follows a 2017 recommendation from the
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

A specific penalty for repeated sexual interactions with a child aged 16 or 17 will also be introduced in Queensland, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Next steps

The draft legislation will now be reviewed by a committee of Labor Government and Liberal-National Opposition politicians.

The Opposition has not yet indicated if it supports the proposal.

However, the reforms are expected to pass Queensland’s one house of Parliament, where Labor has a majority of seats.

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