Vic to adopt affirmative consent model

·2-min read

People in Victoria will have to make sure their sexual partners are consenting or risk committing a crime, under proposed changes to the law.

Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes on Friday announced changes to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), to specify a person must confirm they have received consent for sexual activity.

The government will also amend laws to make it explicit that stealthing - the removal of a condom or other protection during sex without the other person's knowledge or consent - is a crime.

The amendments will be introduced in 2022 and were recommended by the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

The VLRC's report, titled Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences, found that sexual violence is widespread, causes serious harm and is significantly under-reported.

Even when reports are made, many cases don't make it to court - and few that do result in a conviction.

Ms Symes said all of the VLRC's recommendations will be considered in detail, including how criminal investigations and trials can be improved to minimise trauma, how the system can better support victims and keep them informed and how education and outreach can shift community attitudes about sexual offending and consent.

They will shape the government 10-year strategy to address sexual violence and harm, which will be released in 2022.

"This landmark report highlights just how much work there is to do to deliver a justice system that works for victim-survivors," Ms Symes said.

"It's an enormous job - and we'll work closely with those who know this issue best to get it done.

"To victim-survivors, we hear you. The system must change. This is too important not to act."

In the meantime, the government will consult extensively with victims, law enforcement agencies, the courts and other stakeholders in developing legislation.

As part of the initial response, a $5.2 million funding boost will be provided to specialist sexual assault services, to help respond to increasing reporting and demand.

The funding will allow services to hire extra staff, provide more specialist support sessions and help to hundreds more women and children.

It comes as a bill to introduce a requirement for "affirmative consent" passed NSW's lower house.

If it passes the upper house, the NSW Crimes Act will be changed to specify that consent to sexual activity must be communicated by words or action, rather than assumed.

If consent isn't communicated, the other person could be guilty of sexual assault.

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