Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Image Based Sexual Offences

OFFENCES Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (18:52): I rise to give my adjournment speech, which is for the attention of the minister representing the Attorney-General. It is in regard to the Victorian legal system being unprepared for image-based sexual assault (IBSA) offending and the strong link this holds to family violence. According to a report released in October this year by the Sentencing Advisory Council, our criminal justice system’s response to revenge porn, deepfake porn and other types of image-based sexual assault does not reflect the type and severity of harms of more serious examples of offending, including child exploitation material and partner stalking. Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party—and I am sure the rest of this house—recognises and believes that all sexual offending, including online sexual offending, is serious and should never be tolerated. Victoria was one of the first jurisdictions to enact specific image-based sexual assault offences designed to capture the distribution of or threat to distribute intimate imagery however has been criticised for its limit on penalties, and there is general concern that both victim-survivors and perpetrators do not understand these laws. A major concern of mine published in this report was that Victoria’s maximum penalties as set out are far lower than commonwealth offences, with just a maximum of two years imprisonment for a distribution offence and one year for a threat to distribute. This is compared to penalties imposed in other jurisdictions of five years imprisonment for actual and threatened distribution. The maximum penalties compared to commonwealth standards go to show that the offences do not reflect the level of harm that victim-survivors may experience, as the Sentencing Advisory Council report describes. When offences were successfully prosecuted, 27 per cent of offenders received a community correction order, while just 22 per cent received imprisonment and 9 per cent were fined. The offences have also been criticised for their placement in the Summary Offences Act 1966, which limits arrest, search and seizure powers and has the potential to send symbolic messages that these offences are not particularly serious. Stakeholders consulted by the council have agreed that the low numbers of sentenced offences compared with the prevalence in the general community could be attributable to low reporting and a widespread perception that the behaviour is not criminal. The report also noted that outside of possible legislative amendments that would enhance police investigative powers and sentencing practices for IBSA offending, the most useful next step is improving awareness around prevalence, associated harms and criminality. Therefore the action that I seek is for the Attorney-General to outline how Victoria has become equipped to deal with image-based sexual offending and how it plans to respond to the Sentencing Advisory Council’s concerns outlined.


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