ACT News

Changes to crimes act ban up-skirting and down-blousing

Attorney-General Simon Corbell
Attorney-General Simon Corbell  Photo: Rohan Thomson

Voyeuristic behaviour including taking photographs through so-called up-skirting and down-blousing will become criminal offences in the ACT.

On Tuesday the Legislative Assembly passed laws banning the practice linked to increasing use of technology including smartphones and tablet computers.  

Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 2014 would also place new restrictions on the display of some drug paraphernalia, allow for victim impact statements to be presented to courts in the form of drawings and create new requirements for accompanied interviews to be provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are subject to an application or order for a forensic procedure. 

The assembly heard many people photographed in up-skirting and down-blousing incidents didn't   realise they had  been targeted. Photos, often taken in public places such as shopping centre change rooms or on escalators, were  later traded and sold in online forums. 

Other examples have included live streaming of activity without the consent or knowledge of participants. 

"New technologies allow quieter, more surreptitious ways of invading another's privacy and the offences aim to protect the community from that behaviour," Mr Corbell said.

"The nature of the offence means that a violation of privacy occurs often without the victim's knowledge and therefore without giving them the chance to defend themselves. It is important to send a clear message that this behaviour is not acceptable."

First introduced in November, other reforms include amendments to firearms law to reduce some restrictions, and changes to requirements on people carrying out or assisting in some forensic procedures to be of the same sex as the subject of the procedure wherever practicable.

Displaying ice pipes, hash pipes and cannabis water pipes for sale will be banned, in a similar way to existing preventions of display of smoking products.

"Banning the display for sale of drug pipes is an important health initiative that will support Canberra as a healthy and safe place to live," Mr Corbell said.

The reforms were supported by the Liberal opposition and Greens minister Shane Rattenbury. 

Mr Rattenbury said he welcomed new requirements for interview-friends to be provided for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person suspected of a crime in the ACT.

The requirement was first implemented in other jurisdictions after the landmark Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, concluded in 1991. 

"This positive change has been recommended by the Aboriginal Justice Centre and the Aboriginal Legal Service, and I'm pleased that the ACT has closed this gap in the law," Mr Rattenbury said,

"The same change has already been made in NSW." 

He said the need to ban the sale of drug paraphernalia had been obvious to the community for some time, in a similar way to previous moves to ban retailers from displaying fireworks and X-rated pornography. 

"To some people it might seem prudish to have to hide these devices from sale but I agree that it is problematic to allow the open display for sale of ice pipes, for example," Mr Rattenbury said.

"Potentially it weakens the message to people that ice is an extremely dangerous and harmful drug." 

Mr Rattenbury welcomed a new offence of filming or photographing a person's genitals or anal region. 

"It's critical, in my view, that we have a law that is framed in a way that can satisfactorily capture the range of these voyeuristic and intrusive behaviours that are committed too frequently against women," he said.