A bill to reform consent laws in the ACT will be likely be introduced to the Legislative Assembly within the coming months.
The proposed amendment bill from Labor backbencher Marisa Paterson seeks to make sweeping changes to the territory's consent laws.
It would include the introduction of a positive definition of consent based on people communicating agreement, essentially a yes-means-yes model rather than no means no.
The bill would also make clear that a person can withdraw consent at any time of a sexual act.
Dr Paterson released the exposure draft bill last month, and the public can provide feedback on the bill by Friday. Depending on the feedback, Dr Paterson said the bill would be introduced in the "next couple of sittings". The next sitting day for the Legislative Assembly is August 3.
The bill, which is similar to one introduced by former Greens member Caroline Le Couteur in 2018, may need to go before a Legislative Assembly select committee. If that's the case, it might be take another year before the bill passes.
Dr Paterson started work on the bill in January, but said it was something she had sought to pursue even before she was elected at last year's ACT election.
"As a woman, I have had a whole plethora of experiences in my life that have led me to believe that this is really important legislation," she said.
"I have spoken to many women, both friends and colleagues, and through the process of becoming a politician, I have spoken to many people in the community about the impacts of sexual assault, and it is widespread and the ramifications of sexual assault are long term.
"I started this process in January but all the worlds have collided with what's happened in Federal Parliament with Brittany Higgins and other cases that have come to light and I think now is really the time, it has become important to move on this issue."
MORE A.C.T. POLITICS NEWS:
There was an inquiry into Ms Le Couteur's bill, and the committee recommended a number of changes due to technical issues. A controversial element of the bill was that a perpetrator would have to prove they knew, or would have known, consent was freely given.
Dr Paterson said her bill had drawn on submissions from that inquiry. She said the bill had also looked at an extensive inquiry by the NSW Law Reform Commission into sexual consent.
"I think [the bill] is very well informed, but obviously the whole point of going to the community is for feedback and comment," she said.
"And absolutely if there are significant problems, we very very much what to know and want to get it right."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: