How would new consent laws affect NSW sexual assault cases?

Published 28 Aug 2018

The NSW government may be implementing new laws soon regarding consent, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The push came after extensive media coverage for a high profile sexual assault case involving a son of the owner of a big Kings Cross nightclub.

Four Corners investigated the incident and relayed a clear message to the public - never make assumptions. The offender in the case claimed he thought the girl had consented, when she says she never consented.

Since the case, the NSW government referred the state's consent laws to the Law Reform Commission.

What could the new laws be modelled after?

Tasmania's current law indicates that consent requires a positive indication of consent. The NSW laws may take it a step further by requiring 'enthusiastic' confirmation for a truly consensual experience.

Officials also want to take a deeper look at how sexual assault victims are treated within in the justice system, and there has been a push for more education and attention around what consent looks like.

However, there has been push back on the new laws since the announcement. A representative from the Australian Lawyers Alliance said that the law in Tasmania wouldn't work because it doesn't take into account the reality of how things happen in sexual encounters. The spokesperson indicated that these matters are best left to a restorative justice setting.

How would the new laws affect judgment?

If the law were changed in support of enthusiastic consent, it would mean that a person would had to have given clear outright consent in a positive manner, where there is no question that they want to engage in the sexual activity. The assumption would be that if the consent wasn't an enthusiastic 'yes', then any other reaction would be a 'no'.

The government announced it will invest $200 million over the next four years in order to educate school children about sexual consent and to teach them how to properly defend themselves against sexual assault, news.com.au reported.

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