There will be a renewed push to strengthen the ACT's consent laws.
Labor backbencher Dr Marisa Paterson will put forward an amendment to the Crimes Act, which would seek to clearly define what consent is and is not.
Under the proposed changes, seen by The Canberra Times, a statutory definition of consent would be introduced that is based on free and voluntary agreement. It would also make clear that a person can withdraw consent at any time of a sexual act.
It would introduce a positive definition of consent that is based on people communicating agreement of consent, essentially a yes means yes model rather than no means no.
Dr Paterson said it would shift current legislation from the point of sexual assault being a violent act to a more "nuanced and defined" set of parameters around what consent is and is not.
"I'm proposing to introduce a communicative model of consent whereby the principle, meaning and definition of consent has shifted - from something that is presumed and can be negated, to consent being something that must be given," she said.
The proposed bill amendment would also set out circumstances where consent is not given, these include cases where a person does not say or do something to resist the act or cases where a person may have consented to another act with the same person.
A new test for the prosecution of an accused person would also be introduced in which their belief that consent was given must be deemed to be reasonable in the circumstances. In cases where an accused does nothing to ascertain a person's consent, they would not be able to rely on a defence they had believed the other person had consented.
Dr Paterson said the proposed changes would bring ACT in line with other jurisdictions such as Tasmania and Victoria.
"This is a significant step forward for our community and I hope it is seen as an empowering moment for all those survivors of sexual violence in our community - we believe you, we support you," she said.
A draft of the bill is available for public comment until July 16.
Former Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur attempted to put through a similar bill in 2018 but this was halted after the justice and community safety committee recommended a number of changes were needed due to clear technical issues.
A controversial element of Ms Le Couteur's bill was that a perpetrator would have to prove they knew, or would have known, consent was freely given.
However, the introduction of a positive definition is consent was put forward in the Labor and Greens power-sharing agreement, after the Greens took the policy to the election.
Dr Paterson said she reviewed the proposed 2018 amendments as part of her research into the development of the bill.
The ACT government is working through a series of considerable sexual assault reforms. Earlier this year, Minister for Women Yvette Berry set up a working group to co-ordinate the community, service sector, unions and stakeholders on responses to sexual assault in the ACT.
The group was set up after alarms were raised over a drop in sexual assault trials in the ACT. Despite an increase in reports to both police and support services, there were 105 sex offence trials in the ACT over the past five years, compared to 230 trials in the previous five years.
Ms Berry has previously said the government would not rush to introduce law changes as legislative changes were not enough. She said the government needed to look at a holistic approach aimed at improving support services, treatments and prevention.
Dr Paterson said this group would provide input to the bill.
"This work will have input from, and be overseen by, the ACT government's sexual assault prevention and response program, particularly the law reform working group to ensure coordination in the broader context of cultural and educative change across all groups within our community," she said.
Earlier this year, ACT Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee put forward a bill that would outlaw stealthing, which is the non-consensual removal of a condom during sex.
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