SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER
MINISTER FOR FINANCE
MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE
THE HON AMANDA RISHWORTH MP
MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES
THE HON MARK DREYFUS KC MP
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
AUSTRALIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION TO INQUIRE INTO JUSTICE RESPONSES TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE
The Australian Government has today taken a key step to improving the experience of victims and survivors of sexual violence by asking the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to undertake an inquiry into justice responses to sexual violence.
The inquiry is an essential part of the Government’s $14.7 million 2023-24 Budget commitment to strengthen the way the criminal justice system responds to sexual assault and prevent further harm to victims through the justice process.
The Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has appointed the Hon Marcia Neave AO and Her Honour Judge Liesl Kudelka of the District Court of South Australia as part-time Commissioners to lead this inquiry.
“Ms Neave and Judge Kudelka bring a wealth of expertise in law reform and justice responses to sexual violence,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“All too often, seeking justice adds to the trauma experienced by victims and survivors. 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 Minister for Women, Senator Katy Gallagher, said “we consistently hear from women about the issues that affect them – and sadly, sexual violence is raised all too often as something that impacts women’s lives.”
“Seeking justice shouldn’t add to the trauma for victims and this inquiry will look at ways to not only strengthen sexual assault laws but to improve the outcomes and experiences for victims and survivors.”
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the Government was committed to ending family, domestic and sexual violence and our record $2.3 billion investment in this space supported that goal.
“Our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children elevated sexual violence as something to be considered and addressed in its own right.
“We know one in five women in Australia has experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. We want to ensure they are not re-traumatised by processes and systems in place they access when seeking justice.
“We must keep victims and survivors at the centre of all our responses in this space and I’m pleased this inquiry will help to improve outcomes and experiences when interacting with the justice system.”
Victims and survivors have a direct understanding of the services and systems which are intended to support them but at times fail to do so. The Government has established a sexual violence lived-experience Expert Advisory Group (EAG) to ensure the real life experience of victims and survivors are front and centre in the ALRC inquiry. The EAG will work closely with the ALRC to inform its inquiry, and will advise the Government on implementing its recommendations.
The ALRC inquiry and the EAG are critical steps towards improving access to justice for victims and survivors of sexual violence, which is key to the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032 (the National Plan).
The Government sincerely thanks all those who attended the national roundtable on justice responses to sexual violence on 23 August 2023. Your powerful and moving contributions were critical to shaping this inquiry’s terms of reference. The Government also thanks everyone who applied to take part in the EAG, and who courageously shared their experiences.
The ALRC is due to report by 22 January 2025.
For more information about the work of the Australian Law Reform Commission, visit the ALRC website.
If you or someone you know is impacted by family, domestic or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT, chat online via 1800RESPECT.org.au or text 0458 737 732. These services are available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
If you are concerned about your behaviour or use of violence, you can contact the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.
Ms Neave holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons I) and is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and of the Australian Academy of Law. She has served as a judge, commissioner, public policy maker and academic. In 2015, after nine years on the Supreme Court of Victoria, Court of Appeals Division, she took up the role of Commissioner of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. In 2021, she was appointed President and Commissioner of the Tasmanian Commission of inquiry into the Tasmanian Government's responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. Ms Neave is an Officer of the Order of Australia, and was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001.
Judge Kudelka holds a Bachelor of Arts (Jurisprudence) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons I). She began her legal career in 1994 as an Associate to a Supreme Court Justice, before commencing as a solicitor with the South Australia Crown Solicitor’s Office. Judge Kudelka was appointed to the District Court of South Australia in 2017, following her dual roles as a Member of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and as a Barrister of the Independent South Australian Bar. She has 25 years of experience working in the justice system as a judge, counsel and prosecutor, including with victims of sexual violence.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 23 2024