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Full Stop Australia set to table groundbreaking consent legislation reform at Federal Senate Enquiry

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Full Stop Australia set to table groundbreaking consent legislation reform at Federal Senate Enquiry

2 August 2023
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Press Release by
Tara Hunter
Acting CEO, Full Stop Australia

Full Stop Australia set to table groundbreaking consent legislation reform at Federal Senate Enquiry

Date: 25 July 2023
Release: Immediate

Full Stop Australia Acting CEO, Tara Hunter, and Head of Advocacy, Emily Dale, are today presenting at a Senate enquiry on proposed sexual consent laws.

The Full Stop Australia team are set to propose significant change to consent legislation, with a focus on lacking consistency across jurisdictions.

First established in November 2022 through referral to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee, several organisations made written submissions, including Full Stop Australia.

After months of dedicated research and development by our Advocacy and Clinical Services teams, Full Stop Australia lodged a submission and was subsequently called to present at today’s inquiry.

Full Stop Australia Acting CEO, Tara Hunter, said “Until we have systems that acknowledge and understand the impacts of trauma, legislative change will not make the improvements we urgently need to see.”

Consent is a crucially nuanced topic; equally adequate consent legislation is far broader than a typical ‘no means no’ approach.” said Hunter.

As it stands, consent legislation across Australia falls short of fully protecting victim survivors of sexual harassment and violence and, in some instances does not act in the interest of victim/survivors. This is particularly apparent in the inconsistent approach to affirmative consent legislation from state-to-state.

Full Stop Australia calls for significant reforms to national consent legislation with a particular emphasis on the following:

  • A nationally harmonised model of sexual offence and child sexual offence consent legislation ending the absurdity of justice being determined by location.
  • The definition of consent in every jurisdiction should be based on an affirmative model of consent – which recognises that:
  • Silence or lack of resistance is not consent.
  • Consent is on-going and retractable.
  • Incapacity, being unconscious or intoxication are indicators that consent cannot be given.
  • Consent can only be given freely and voluntarily. Sexual coercion is not consent.
  • Consent must be specific to each sexual act and cannot be assumed by prior activity.
  • Taking positive steps to seek that other person’s consent is a requirement.
  • A nationally consistent age of consent.
  • ‘Stealthing’ should be criminalised in all jurisdictions.
  • Related evidence reforms, to limit cross-examination that reinforces victim-blaming and rape myths, or weaponises victim-survivors’ experience of trauma against them.
  • All jurisdictions should introduce mandatory jury directions, required to be given at the outset of proceedings and to correct improper assertions in real time, to support affirmative consent laws. Among other things, jury directions should address:
  • Sexual Violence response resources
  • The impact of trauma on memory being extraneous to credibility.
  • The irrelevance of a complainant’s past sexual activities, appearance and conduct.
  • Trauma-informed and sexual violence-informed training for all justice system professionals.
  • Providing victim-survivors of sexual violence with universal access to specialised trauma-informed legal services.

Full Stop Australia is a national trauma specialist counselling service, providing free, confidential, 24/7 support to anyone in Australia impacted by sexual, domestic and family violence.

1800 FULL STOP (1800 385 578) is the only national phone service that provides trauma specialist and ongoing care across the continuum from crisis to recovery.

As one of the oldest sexual, domestic and family violence support organisations in the country, Full Stop Australia strives to maintain our presence in sharing expertise when it comes to sexual, domestic and family violence in Australia.

A life free from violence is possible.

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