In 2013, the department publicly released the Review of Sexual Offences: Consultation Paper. Following consultation on the paper’s proposals for reform, the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2014 was passed by Parliament in October 2014. This Act makes a number of improvements to Victoria’s sexual offence laws, including rape and sexual assault. The reforms commenced operation on 1 July 2015.

Among the most important reforms are:

  • a clear, simple and consistent drafting style for the offences of rape and sexual assault
  • a new fault element in rape and sexual assault: the accused does not reasonably believe that the complainant is consenting
  • making jury directions in rape and sexual assault trials better tailored to the specifics of each case
  • a new ‘course of conduct charge’, which will assist in the prosecution of people who engage in repeated and systematic sexual abuse over a period of time.

This document provides an introduction to these reforms. It is primarily designed to assist the judiciary, lawyers and police in applying the new laws, and may also be a useful tool for members of the community who are interested in better understanding the law in this area.

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