NSW affirmative consent laws unlikely to make a real difference

25th May 2021

The affirmative consent laws announced by the NSW Government today are unlikely to make a real difference to the victim’s experience in a criminal sexual assault trial, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“Affirmative consent laws might be useful as a symbolic acknowledgement of the importance of consent and also help with consent education, but they will not make a significant difference to the nature of criminal trials,” said Mr Greg Barns SC, national criminal justice spokesperson for the ALA.

“Affirmative consent laws are already in place in Tasmania and these laws have had no impact on the number of victims coming forward or the rate of guilty pleas.

“The current low reporting and low conviction rate for sexual offences means there needs to be a better way for victims to have their experiences acknowledged and offenders to be held responsible for their actions, but affirmative consent laws are not the answer.

“We believe there is a place for restorative justice processes in dealing with some instances of sexual assault and that this option would make a real difference to victims of sexual crime.

“A restorative justice framework would provide victims with more choice and power in relation to how the crime is addressed and how they engage with the person that hurt them.”

Tags: NSW Sexual Assault Consent