Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Sexual Abuse Survivors Petition

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (17:44): I would like to make a brief contribution—and I will be quick—on the petition that was tabled by Mr Atkinson, which seeks to allow victims and survivors of sexual abuse to share their stories. This belief lies at the heart of our party. Greater transparency regarding sexual offending is fundamentally in the public interest. At my last reading of this petition there were over 1200 signatures—a large number of people for an e-petition—but no doubt there are many more members of the community who strongly believe that each victim and survivor of sexual abuse has their own personal story. Indeed for each one of these signatures I am certain that there are many, many more who, for whatever reason, sometimes legislative, remain silent. I also believe there should be no time limits preventing a victim from speaking out and naming their abuser. A victim’s rights should be prioritised over those of a sex offender, and they should have the right to tell their story at a time that is appropriate to them. The scales are completely unbalanced. We protect those who commit these horrendous crimes by suppressing their names whilst the victims are traumatised for life. How would that meet the standards of the charter of human rights? Those who have endured horrific abuse should never be forced or coerced to share their story, nor should they be prevented from doing so. So often victims are only retraumatised by the need to request the court’s approval before they share their own story. This is simply not good enough. I note that the petition requests that the Legislative Council calls on the government to amend the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act 1958 to allow victims and survivors to share their story. This is the least that this house can do to help those who have already suffered so much. I welcome the Attorney General’s announcement that new laws will be drafted to ensure all victims and survivors of sexual abuse can share their story should they choose to do so. It is imperative that during the drafting of these laws victims and survivors of sexual abuse, in addition to advocacy groups and specialist response organisations, are adequately consulted, and most importantly, it is imperative that this failure in the legislation can be fixed—must be fixed—as a matter of priority. Ms Maxwell and I look forward to overseeing the passage of these updated laws, which will ensure that all victims feel that they, and only they, are the true owners of their personal story. I thank Mr Atkinson for tabling this petition and also for providing a voice for those silenced by the legislation and also silenced by the courts.


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