NSW sex consent reform reaches final stage

·2-min read

NSW is likely days away from a historic reform to sexual assault laws that will introduce a consent requirement, to be communicated by words or actions.

Debate on the government's bill to reform the Crimes Act will begin in the upper house of the NSW parliament on Friday after the lower house signed off on the change on Wednesday.

Saxon Mullins, the young woman whose traumatic experience was the catalyst for the reform process, told AAP watching the debate unfold has been "almost indescribable".

"I'm just so pleased, of course, that this has gone through," she said.

"It's a bit overwhelming. In a way (I'm) shocked that it's finally ... close to done. It feels really nice to know that it had so much support in the parliament."

Ms Mullins' horrific sexual encounter in 2013 in a Kings Cross laneway, followed by two criminal trials and appeals that resulted in the man accused of assaulting her walking free, prompted NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman to order a review into the state's laws.

In May, he announced he would go a step further than the NSW Law Reform Commission recommended and introduce the "affirmative consent" model.

Ms Mullins, who is now a director of the Rape and Sexual Assault Research and Advocacy Initiative, supports the affirmative consent approach.

"Hearing affirmative consent referred to as a common sense reform in the NSW parliament - it's amazing," she said.

The bill has the support of the government, Labor and the Greens, all but assuring its passage through the upper house.

However, the Greens will be proposing an amendment to narrow the bill's exception for people with mental health impairments, which it says could let people with conditions like anxiety off the hook.

The Greens also want the laws reviewed after three years, with further reviews every five years after that. As drafted, the legislation would be reviewed five years after becoming law.

Similar amendments failed in the lower house, but Greens spokesperson for women Jenny Leong hopes with some adjustments they will be supported in the upper house.

"We are very keen to see that this legislation is passed through both houses within this sitting," she said.

"We want to end the year knowing that we have affirmative consent laws in NSW."

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