My question is to the Attorney-General. The government came out upon the release of the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences report saying that they would support a new affirmative consent model and a new stealthing offence, which is great news, but they have remained silent on the rest of the 91 recommendations. I have spoken in this place before about a sexual assault reporting option, or a SARO, including a constituent in my electorate who would have liked an online option to report their sexual assault. Recommendations 19 and 20 of the VLRC report recommended a SARO equivalent through both centres against sexual assault and Victoria Police. New South Wales has a SARO through police, and it is hugely successful. My office has spoken to the individuals who run their SARO program, and the results are incredible. Victoria used to have such a scheme run through the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault, but it was a victim of its own success and shut down due to underfunding. Attorney, will the state government acknowledge that Victoria needs an online, confidential, anonymous reporting option and commit to its implementation?
Thanks, Attorney. I am a little bit disappointed by that statement. It is something that not only the VLRC report has called for but also academics such as Associate Professor Georgina Heydon, who is currently investigating best practice for sexual assault reporting options, RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice, Victoria Police, the Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault Forum and victim-survivors. There are clearly things that need to be worked through, like you stated, and these include resourcing the scheme adequately so the reports can be responded to in short time frames, how mandatory reporting of children might intersect, how data should or could be stored and how security can be maintained, but it should not stop the recommendations from being acted upon. If the government will not commit to acquitting this recommendation of providing alternative reporting options for sexual assault survivors, how will you address these clear gaps in reporting?