Sexual Offences

Although generally accepted as being among the most traumatic crimes for its victims, sexual offences are among the most under-reported. The prospect of a long, harrowing and adversarial trial process deter many victims from pressing their case.   

In 2001, the Commission was asked to consider whether the criminal justice system was sufficiently responsive to the needs of complainants in sexual offence cases and to recommend changes if necessary. The review aimed to encouraged more victims to report offences to police and see the case through to trial. 

Publishing a discussion paper in December 2001, the Commission laid out the ground for their inquiry and asked for submissions. Initially, 75 submissions were received from a range of concerned individuals and organisations. Following an interim report in June 2003 seeking responses to 107 recommendations for legislative, administrative and procedual changes, the Commission received a further 55 submissions.     

Along with widespread consultations with legal, policing, administrative, government organisations, the submissions contributed to the formulation of 201 recommendations in the final report, whose stated purpose was to improve the treatment of victims of sexual offences while ensuring the accused continued to receive a fair trial. 

The final report was tabled in Parliament on 25 August 2004.

Implementation

Many of the Commission’s legislative and system-wide recommendations in relation to sexual offences have been implemented. 

In 2006, the Victorian Parliament introduced a number of reforms to both the procedural and substantive law governing sexual offences and the prosecution of those offences in response to the Commission’s report. The legislative reforms are contained in the Crimes (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 and the Crimes (Sexual Offences) (Further Amendment) Act 2006, and the Crimes Amendment (Rape) Act 2007. The reforms resulted in the amendment of existing sexual offences and the procedures regulating the prosecution of sexual offences in a court proceeding.

The government also developed a comprehensive sexual assault reform package to coordinate and deliver system-wide reforms including the: 

  • establishment of multidisciplinary centres by Victoria Police 
  • introduction of sexual assault forensic nurses 
  • introduction of specialist sex offences lists in the Magistrates’ and County Courts 
  • introduction of specialist prosecutors 
  • establishment of a child witness service 
  • establishment of a treatment program for 15–18 year olds 
  • introduction of a Victims’ Charter.  

Timeline

Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Reference
Consultation
Submissions
Final report
Tabled in parliament
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Project Publications

Sexual Offences: Final Report Summary

In August 2004, Victorian Parliament tabled the Commission's Sexual Offences: Law and Procedure Final Report, a detailed and complex examination of...

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Sexual Offences: Final Report

Tabled in Parliament on 25 August 2004, the Commission's Sexual Offences: Law and Procedure Final Report was tabled in Parliament on 25 August 2004....

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Sexual Offences: Recommendations

Tabled in Victorian Parliament in August 2004, the Commission's final report on Sexual Offences: Law and Procedure contained the 201 recommendations...

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Sexual Offences: Terms of Reference

On 27 April 2001, the Attorney-General, the Honourable Rob Hulls MP, asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review the law and procedures...

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