The Queensland Government has passed laws allowing the names of adults charged with rape and other sexual offences to be made public before they stand trial.
The change comes into effect on 3 October, ending previous laws that prevented accused offenders from being identified by the media and in public records.
Rape reporting in Australia
In most cases and in most of Australia, the media can report on people who have been charged with an offence, such as rape, before they stand trial.
However, in Queensland, there is currently a legal protection for people who have been accused of rape or other sexual offences, that prevents the media from reporting on them prior to the court case.
The Queensland Government passed a law yesterday to overturn this. It makes the Northern Territory the last Australian jurisdiction that prevents the names of accused sex offenders from being made public before a trial.
From next month, people accused of a sexual offence can be identified when they’re charged (in the same way alleged offenders of other crimes are named).
The laws will be retrospective. Anyone previously charged with sexual assault in the state who has not yet gone to trial can be identified from 3 October.
Are there exceptions?
Alleged offenders and alleged victims will be able to apply for a non-publication order. This would keep an accused offender anonymous.
The decision would be up to a court, who must consider any views or submissions made by the alleged victim or applications made by the alleged offender.
The Queensland Government says it is working on a guide to assist journalists on reporting on alleged sexual offenders in the media.
Queensland Government statement
The Queensland Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce recommended the change. It received support from both sides of politics when it passed in state Parliament on Wednesday.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Yvette D’Ath, said the Government hoped that “modernising” these laws would encourage more victim-survivors to report their experience to police.