Finally, victims heard

The Liberal Nationals have won a battle to force amendments to the Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill 2020, which go some way to addressing the fundamental flaws that would have seen the families of deceased sexual assault victims silenced in speaking up.

In an admission that she has got this very wrong, Attorney-General Jill Hennessy moved House amendments that limit the effect of the Bill’s silencing provisions until September 2021.

Further, the Legislative Council agreed to the Liberal Nationals amendment that removed the clause that would have expressly criminalised the families of deceased sexual assault victims from speaking about their loved one. This retains the legal status quo and the families of deceased sexual assault victims will be able to speak out.

This approach is consistent with the comments expressed by Judge McInerney in the County Court last Friday.

Comments attributable to Shadow Attorney-General, Edward O’Donohue:

“Jill Hennessy’s failure to consult with the families of deceased sexual assault victims has led to a very traumatic period for many victims and their families that should never have occurred.

“Subject to the passage of the amended Bill through the Legislative Assembly, the Attorney-General now has an obligation to do what she should already have done and directly consult with the families of deceased sexual assault victims.”