Additional Resources: Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences

This is a page of extra material relevant to the issues discussed in the VLRC’s report, Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences (2021). It is intended to assist researchers, students, legal professionals and other readers with an interest in the issues.

Below you will find the government’s response to our report, information about legislative amendments that implemented some of our recommendations, and links to some materials that we found particularly useful when we were drafting the report. This is not a list of everything we used. For a comprehensive list of the resources we referred to in our report, see the Bibliography.

Below you will also find links to recent data and statistics on sexual offences; related inquiries that were running at the same time as our inquiry or that have started since our inquiry finished; support services; and selected media coverage of our report.

The government’s response to our report

‘Stronger laws for victim survivors of sexual violence’, Victorian Government media release, 12 November 2021

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Legislation implementing some of our recommendations

The Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2022  implemented 13 of the report’s 99 recommendations. It:

  • Reformed the Crimes Act 1958 to introduce an affirmative model of consent and to criminalise stealthing (Recommendations 50 & 51).
  • Made image-based sexual offences indictable and moved them into the Crimes Act (Recommendations 52,  53, 54).
  • Amended the Jury Directions Act 2015  to improve judges’ directions to juries in sexual offence trials by requiring judges to explain the meaning of the phrase ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’; address misconceptions jurors may hold about sexual violence where there are good reasons to address those misconceptions; and give directions earlier and more frequently (Recommendations 78, 79, 82).
  • Amended the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 so that ‘ground rules hearings’ are held in all cases where a sexual offence complainant is a witness. This means that the judge, prosecution and defence must consider the communication and other needs of the complainant, and agree on the style, parameters and scope of questioning before the complainant is called to give evidence (Recommendation 84).
  • Amended the Criminal Procedure Act to modernise its language and remove references to ‘chastity’ (Recommendation 89).

The Act also implemented recommendations from earlier VLRC reports:

  • By requiring the court to have regard to additional considerations when determining whether to allow pre-trial cross-examination of a witness who has a cognitive impairment or is a complainant in a proceeding that relates to a charge for a sexual or family violence offence (Recommendations 45 and 46 of the Committals report, reiterated in the Sexual Offences report). Magistrates will also need to provide reasons for granting leave to cross-examine a witness and identify each issue on which the witness may be cross-examined (Recommendation 46, Committals report).
  • By extending the confidential communications protections in criminal proceedings to ‘protected health information’ (Recommendations 25 and 44 of the The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process report).

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Data and statistics

In Chapter 6 of our report, we made recommendations for how to improve the collection of data about sexual offences.

We relied on various data sources to develop our recommendations. Appendix D of the report provides an overview of the Victorian criminal justice system data we drew on.

Other important sources included:

Other data sources that we used have since been updated. The links below will take you to the latest data, which may be more recent than what was available to us.

  • ANROWS (Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited), National Community Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women. This is the world’s longest-running population-level survey of community attitudes towards violence against women.
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Cth), Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence. Key findings about sexual violence in Australia, the contexts in which it occurs and how it varies across population groups.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics, Crime Victimisation–Australia includes data about victimisation rates for crimes against the person including sexual assault, and rates of increase/decrease over the past 15 years (2008-09 to 2022-23).

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Other inquiries

There have been many inquiries into sexual violence. A selection are listed below:

Inquiries that informed our report

More recent inquiries

Further inquiries ran at the same time as the VLRC’s, or began afterwards. Some are listed below. This is not a complete list.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory Law Reform Committee is considering if the Northern Territory should adopt an affirmative consent model. It released a Discussion Paper in May, 2023.


In Queensland, the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has completed two major reports:

  • Hear her voice was published in November 2021. It made 89 recommendations for domestic violence and justice system reform. The recommendations were all supported or supported in principle by the Queensland Government.

South Australia

In South Australia, the Attorney-General’s Department is reviewing the criminal justice response to sexual offences. It is considering:

  • introducing an affirmative consent model
  • changing the subject, timing and frequency of jury directions
  • increasing penalties for image-based sexual offences

The Attorney-General’s Department sought community feedback between December 2023 and February 2024.

Western Australia

The Western Australia Law Reform Commission delivered its final report on sexual offences in 2024. As of April, 2024, the report had not been tabled in the Western Australian Parliament. The report will be made public after it is tabled in Parliament. The inquiry for the report started in December, 2021. Separately, the Office of Commissioner for Victims of Crime is leading a review into the experience of sexual violence victim survivors in the criminal justice system in Western Australia.


After the completion of the VLRC’s report, the Australian Law Reform Commission was asked to conduct a national inquiry, Justice Responses to Sexual Violence, which began in 2024.

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Support services for victim survivors

Victoria Police: Support and resources for sexual offences and child abuse. Information about support services, ways of reporting, and a fact sheet of common misconceptions about rape and sexual assault.

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Selected media coverage

1 April 2023: ‘He texted Holly that he’d done ‘the most heinous thing possible’. A jury disagreed.’ Sexual assault complaints have skyrocketed in recent years, but convictions remain low and the legal process is brutal for complainants. Many argue it’s time for an entire rethink, Good Weekend magazine

12 November 2021: ‘Affirmative consent laws to be introduced in Victoria in ‘incredible step forward’’, AAP, The Guardian

12 November 2021: ‘Affirmative consent laws to be introduced in Victoria for sexual assault cases’, ABC Online

18 May 2021: ‘Improving the justice system for sexual assault survivors’, The Law Report, ABC Radio National

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