Alternatives for putting alleged rape victims through the trauma of criminal trials, including compensation schemes and civil claims, are being investigated in a new probe into the nation’s approach to sexual assault.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on Tuesday will unveil the terms of a wide-ranging Law Reform Commission inquiry into sexual assault cases, which will investigate frameworks about evidence, court processes and jury directions and laws about consent.
Mr Dreyfus has appointed former Victorian Supreme Court judge Marcia Neave and South Australia District Court judge Liesl Kudelka as part-time commissioners to head up the inquiry.
“All too often, seeking justice adds to the trauma experienced by victims and survivors,” Mr Dreyfus said. “This inquiry will look at how we can improve victims’ and survivors’ experiences in the justice system by examining relevant laws and legal frameworks, justice sector practices, supports for victims and survivors, and transformative approaches to justice.”
The ALRC’s terms of reference were informed by a national roundtable on justice responses to sexual violence held last year, which was attended by former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, consent education advocate Chanel Contos and founder of the #LetUsSpeak campaign Nina Funnell.
Queensland Sexual Assault Network chief executive Angela Lynch, who was a part of the roundtable that informed the ALRC terms of reference, told The Australian she wanted the inquiry to produce “innovative responses … because it may be that not all survivors want to go through a criminal justice system”.
Ms Lynch said she hoped the inquiry would boost convictions for offenders.
“We’ve got a 1.7 per cent conviction rate. The current system is not working for victim survivors, or more broadly for the community,” she said.