$14.7 million to strengthen sexual assault laws and prevent harm

The Albanese Government is investing $14.7 million to strengthen the way the criminal justice system responds to sexual assault and prevent further harm to victims through the justice process.

One in five women in Australia have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. Only 13 per cent of these women reported their most recent assault to the police.

For those who do report, attrition rates are high, prosecution rates are low, and conviction rates are even lower.

Seeking justice should not add to the trauma experienced by victims and survivors. Nor should they be forced to navigate different legal processes and face different justice outcomes based on which state or territory they live in.

The Albanese Government’s 2023-24 Budget will invest $6.5 million over four years to deliver a key election commitment to work with states and territories to strengthen and harmonise sexual assault and consent laws, and improve criminal justice responses for victims and survivors.

The Government will:

  • establish an Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence, with a focus on law reform proposals to strengthen sexual assault laws and improve the outcomes and experiences of victims and survivors in the justice system;
  • host a ministerial-level roundtable on addressing sexual violence, bringing together victims and survivors, the service and advocacy sectors, other experts and state and territory ministers to drive nationwide, cross-sector collaboration and inform the terms of the ALRC inquiry;
  • convene an Expert Advisory Group to support the ALRC inquiry and advise Government on implementation of its recommendations, ensuring the voices of victims and survivors are centred in justice responses to sexual violence; and
  • drive nationwide efforts to strengthen criminal justice responses to sexual assault, including implementing the Standing Council of Attorneys-General Work Plan to Strengthen Criminal Justice Responses to Sexual Assault 2022-2027.

A further $8.2 million will be made available through to 2026-27 to design, deliver and evaluate multiple small-scale trials of primary prevention and early intervention concepts for the prevention of sexual harm and violence.

These trials will be the first of their kind in Australia and will help establish what interventions work in practice and guide future funding.

This work will support implementation of the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-2032 and build upon the $1.7 billion record investment in Women’s Safety by the Albanese Government.

The new funding is in addition to the more than $20 million provided in the Albanese Government’s October 2022-23 Budget to strengthen responses to sexual violence, including more specialised, trauma-informed legal services and training for sexual violence responses.

It will be progressed in close consultation with the states and territories and build on the important work already complete or ongoing in many jurisdictions.

We must give victims and survivors confidence that the justice system will deliver equitable and consistent outcomes, while minimising the risk of re-traumatisation through the justice process.

The Albanese Government thanks the ongoing advocacy of victims and survivors who have continued to share their stories and seek better outcomes for all Australians. We hear you and we will continue to listen as we embark on this important reform.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family, domestic or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.

If you are concerned about your behaviour or use of violence, you can contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.