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Sexual violence

Sexual violence

Every Australian deserves to live free from violence. The Australian Government is committed to providing national leadership to strengthen criminal justice responses to sexual assault.

Work Plan to Strengthen Criminal Justice Responses to Sexual Assault 2022–2027

Sexual assault is a serious crime that can have devastating, cumulative and long-lasting effects on the lives of victim-survivors, their families and communities. While states and territories are primarily responsible for laws that criminalise sexual assault, the scale and severity of sexual violence across Australia makes this a nationally significant issue, requiring a nationally coordinated response.

Through the Standing Council of Attorneys-General (SCAG), previously named the Meeting of Attorneys-General, the Australian Government is leading a national discussion on strengthening criminal justice responses to sexual assault.

On 12 August 2022, participants endorsed the Work Plan to Strengthen Criminal Justice Responses to Sexual Assault 2022–2027.

Under the Work Plan, jurisdictions will seek to take collective and individual action to improve the experiences of victim-survivors of sexual assault in the criminal justice system. It focuses on the following priority areas:

  1. Strengthening legal frameworks to ensure victim-survivors have improved justice outcomes and protections, wherever necessary and appropriate, across Australia.
  2. Building justice sector capability to better support and protect victim-survivors.
  3. Supporting research and greater collaboration to identify best practices, and to ensure actions are supported by a sound and robust evidence base.

The Work Plan will operate alongside ongoing and prospective initiatives that seek to improve responses to sexual violence that are being progressed at both the national and state and territory level.

This includes:

The Work Plan is accompanied by an environmental scan that provides a nation-wide snapshot of key initiatives that directly relate to the Work Plan priorities as well related initiatives across jurisdictions. The environmental scan is a point-in-time resource to illustrate work in progress across Australia, and will be updated on an annual basis.

We will provide SCAG with an annual progress report containing an overview of key activities and progress against initiatives outlined in the Work Plan. We will also publish the report to this website.

Visit the Standing Council of Attorneys-General page for more information, including meeting communiques.

Standing Council of Attorneys-General Criminal Justice Responses to Sexual Assault Working Group

At the 9 June 2021 Extraordinary Meeting of Attorneys-General, participants tasked justice officials with developing a joint program of work on criminal justice responses to sexual assault.

The officials-level Working Group on Criminal Justice responses to Sexual Assault was established as a result. The working group comprises state and territory justice officials from every jurisdiction. We chair the working group and provide secretariat support.

The working group oversees the design and implementation of the Work Plan. The working group meets quarterly to support the ongoing administration of the Work Plan and to share ideas, expertise and resources.

To contact the working group email the secretariat at sexual.violence.responses@ag.gov.au.

Child sexual abuse and sexual assault legislation in Australia: A national review

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) and in partnership with the Attorney-General’s Department, is progressing a national review and comparative analysis of sexual assault and child sexual abuse legislation across Australia. This will identify any impact of any substantive inconsistencies between legal frameworks, determine whether there are any gaps in the conduct criminalised in each jurisdiction, as well as explore best practice approaches.

This review aligns with Priority 1 of the Work Plan to strengthen legal frameworks to ensure victim‑survivors have improved justice outcomes. It also responds to 2021 Australian of the Year Ms Grace Tame’s address to the Meeting of Attorneys-General on 12 November 2021.

Downloads

Contact us

For more information send your enquiry to:

Email: sexual.violence.responses@ag.gov.au

or

Mail: Responses to Sexual Assault - Criminal Justice Reform Taskforce
Families and Legal System Division
Attorney-General’s Department
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600

Support services

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, free and confidential 24-hour support services are available online and via telephone.

The National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service, 1800Respect, provides support for people experiencing violence and abuse, and contains an online searchable database to locate services in your area. Call 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800Respect.org.au.

For crisis support or suicide prevention services, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.LifeLine.org.au.

MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service offering support for men with concerns about mental health, anger management, family violence, substance abuse, and healthy relationships. Call 1300 78 99 78 or visit www.mensline.org.au.

If you are, or someone else is, in immediate danger, call Triple Zero: 000.