Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022
22 March 2022
Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management) – Mr Speaker, I rise in support of the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022 which will introduce the new standalone criminal offence of non-fatal strangulation, choking and suffocation, and will amend the definition of consent in relation to stealthing.
I commend the
Attorney-General, the department and all the stakeholders and the public who
made submissions to this bill, and for all they have done in bringing this bill
into this parliament. I know how
passionate and committed the Attorney-General is in bringing forward this bill,
as well as her commitment to ensuring that our family and sexual violence laws
are contemporary and best practice.
I also acknowledge and pay tribute to the courage of all
victims/survivors of family and sexual violence, especially those who have
lived through non-fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and
stealthing. This bill is for them. I also thank all those in our Government and
in our NGOs, who assist victims/survivors of family and sexual violence and
help them in their most vulnerable time of need, and for their strong
dedication and ongoing efforts to support Tasmanians impacted by family and
Every Tasmanian has the right to live free from all forms of
violence and abuse. That is why
eliminating violence, especially family and sexual violence, is a top priority
for the Attorney-General, for me, for our Government and indeed, for this parliament. Violence against anyone in any form is
unacceptable, but the harm caused by family and sexual violence is particularly
devastating. This is why, since 2015,
this Government has undertaken significant legislative reform, including
legislation to hold perpetrators of family and sexual violence to account and
provide access to specialist legal support services.
The Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2022 recognises that non-fatal
strangulation, choking or suffocation is a significant form of violence which
can be a precursor for escalation in the severity of family and domestic
violence. Tasmania Police has advised
that there are approximately 16 family violence incidents per month that
involve an element of non-fatal strangulation or choking. This represents around one in every 20 family
violence incidents reported to Tasmania Police.
Male perpetrators are more likely than females to attempt to strangle
their victim, with Tasmania Police advising that 5.7 per cent of
family violence incidents with male perpetrators involved attempted
strangulation, versus 1.2 per cent of incidents with female
perpetrators. Non-fatal strangulation or
choking is also regarded as a high-risk factor for family violence offending,
therefore evidence of non-fatal strangulation is considered by police when
assessing the risk level of each incident.
I am also advised that more than one in five incidents that
were categorised as high-risk last year involved non-fatal strangulation or
choking. This demonstrates that there is
a definite need for the standalone offence of non-fatal strangulation in
Tasmania. These statistics are also why
our Government wants to ensure that incidents of non-fatal strangulation are
recorded on a person’s criminal record, by ensuring that perpetrators are
charged and prosecuted for a specific criminal offence in recognition of the
utmost seriousness of this form of violence.
Non-fatal strangulation is never acceptable. Therefore, recognising it as a specific
indictable offence in its own right recognises the seriousness of this
behaviour and will enhance the safety of victims of family violence. Importantly, it will carry a statutory and
maximum penalty of 21 years imprisonment, consistent with most offences under
the Criminal Code.
I note that the bill also amends the definition of consent
in relation to stealthing, which has been the subject of legislative reform in
other states. Stealthing refers to the
situation in which the person consented to sexual activity on the basis that a condom
would be used and the other person then deliberately does not use, damages or
removes the condom before or during the sexual activity, without the agreement
of the other person.
From attending meetings with other jurisdictions in regards to
women’s safety, our consent laws are seen as nation-leading. This is because section 2A of our Criminal
Code already provides that a person does not freely agree to a sexual act if
the person does not say or do anything to communicate consent.
This is akin to the concept of affirmative consent, which is considered
by many to be best practice. An expanded
definition of consent through this bill will therefore make it plain that there
is no free agreement to an act of sexual intercourse if a person says or does
anything to communicate to the other person that a condom must be used and the
other person intentionally does not use, tampers with, or removes the condom
before or during the sexual intercourse.
Ordinarily, stealthing would vitiate consent under our
nation-leading laws. However, our strong
reforms for the inclusion of a specific provision for stealthing are designed
to avoid any doubt, will help with education efforts in regards to prevention
of violence against women, will hopefully discourage would-be offenders, and
will also support the making of complaints and prosecutions for sexual offences
such as rape.
Stealthing is an emerging issue for the criminal law. This is why law reform alongside education
regarding consent is so important as it helps to change behaviours and
attitudes in our society.
I have listened to Ms O’Connor’s contribution and a little of
Ms Haddad’s contribution, and I hear what they have said about consistency in
regards to police response. I want to
assure them that both me as minister and the Commissioner of Police are very
determined that any victim/survivor will have a consistent response across
Tasmania. I will speak about MDCs later
on in my contribution. The MDCs are
about ensuring that we have a one-stop place where people can go to get the
best service provision they need at the time when they report. At any time, if a member has any concerns
about the police response, I ask you to please contact me. I assure you that I will follow it
up. Now that police have body-worn
cameras we have the date, the time, and where it happened, so we can follow it
up. I ask members to bring it forward. Tasmania Police want to make sure our
victims/survivors get the best response they can.
Regarding training, Tasmania Police officers receive training
on family and sexual violence during their recruitment course and then
constantly through their service. This
includes regular training days, which occur every five weeks, and through
in-service courses. These amendments
will be included as part of this training to ensure that our police officers
know how to assist victims/survivors and how to apply this important
legislation to prosecute offenders.
The senior investigators also have a forum where they meet
regularly to discuss changes to legislation and investigative procedures. This will inform how police are taught to
apply this legislation, including these amendments.
As well as these formal methods of training, police officers
are continually undergoing on-the-job training and coaching in relation to
family violence responses. Every family
violence incident is reviewed by a supervisor and feedback provided, meaning
there is a constant training loop in this area.
In Tasmania, family violence is the only crime type that requires
supervisor validation, demonstrating the importance that Tasmania Police places
on its response to family violence.
To further strengthen our legislative reform agenda, I am
pleased to note that this week the Attorney-General has introduced the Family
Violence Reforms Bill to create a new declaration for repeat family violence
offenders and introduce the ability to mandate participation and behaviour
change programs as part of a family violence order. These amendments are also part of Action 30
of our second family and sexual violence action plan Safe Homes, Families,
Communities, which commits to the implementation of legislative reform to
strengthen legal responses to family and sexual violence and builds on the
amendments already implemented, including:
- introducing a declaration scheme under the
Dangerous Criminals and High-Risk Offenders Act 2020 for high-risk serious sex
or violent offenders, enabling them to be monitored after their release from
- amending the Evidence Act 2001 to allow victims
of sexual offences the right to speak out publicly and to identify themselves.
- changing the language used in the Criminal Code
relating to sexual crimes against children to reflect the gravity of such acts.
- introducing the new crime of persistent family
violence and enabling courts to impose electronic monitoring on a person as a
condition of a family violence order.
The Government takes its role very seriously. This is why, since the launch of our first
nation-leading action plan in 2015 and under our second action plan launched in
2019, the Government has continued to build upon its commitment, investment and
scope, in preventing and responding to family and sexual violence in Tasmania.
We do not apologise for sending the strongest message to
offenders that harmful and violent acts will not be tolerated and that the
Tasmanian Government is committed to supporting victims of domestic, family and
sexual violence. This is why we have
invested over $300 million in direct and indirect services in responding
to family and sexual violence,
including $63 million for specific measures under our first and second
As a result of our significant investment through our action
plans over the past seven years, we have implemented a wide range of reforms
and measures aimed at primary prevention of family and sexual violence, response and recovery supports and
initiatives to strengthen the service system.
This includes delivering a range of programs designed to reduce
offending by family violence perpetrators and having early interventions
available for low-risk perpetrators and men who have self-identified the need
to change their behaviours, such as the Men’s Referral Service. This service provides a point of contact for
men taking responsibility for their violent behaviour as well as support and
referrals for women and men seeking information on behalf of their male
partners, friends or family members, and support services seeking assistance
for their clients. No to Violence has
delivered the Men’s Referral Service in Tasmania since December 2015. In addition to self-referrals, the Men’s
Referral Service delivers the early intervention response, where perpetrators
are called within 48 hours of a family violence incident attended by police and
offered counselling and referral to appropriate services.
In 2021, there was a 208 per cent increase in inbound
calls to the Men’s Referral Service from the previous year. The significant increase in calls, both self
referrals and return calls to the early intervention response, indicates a
really positive uptake in men seeking help for behaviour change and increased
awareness of the service. Access to
rehabilitative services and programs for family violence perpetrators, like the
Men’s Referral Service is essential if we are to achieve long-term change in
offending rates. Therefore, it is
pleasing to see that the early intervention response is having a clear impact
on engaging men to take steps to end violent behaviours.
In regards to high risk perpetrators, the Government is
providing ongoing funding for electronic monitoring following the outcomes of
our trial that showed a 76 per cent decrease in high-risk incidents,
a 75 per cent reduction in assaults, an 81 per cent
reduction of threats, a 74 per cent decrease in property damage,
100 per cent decrease in reports of stalking, and
80 per cent of offenders did not reoffend in the six months following
the removal of the electronic monitoring device.
These extraordinary results are why Project Vigilance won a
silver award in November last year at the 2021 Australian Crime and Violence
On 18 March 2022, the Australian Government introduced a
further $150 million funding into a range of measures to deliver on its
commitment to end family, domestic and sexual abuse. This additional funding includes a
$104 million technology-focused package to keep women and children safe
and to prevent devices being used to perpetrate or facilitate family, domestic
and sexual violence. This includes
establishing a $20 million fund for states and territories to trial
electronic monitoring of high-risk and persistent domestic violence offenders
based on Tasmania’s award-winning Project Vigilance.
It is fantastic for Tasmania to again be acknowledged for all
its great work, especially the nation-leading efforts in that regard.
In recent years there have been a significant increase in the
reporting of sexual violence which comes amid unprecedented public disclosure,
media attention and awareness around sexual violence and consent, including in
regards to non-fatal
strangulation, choking, suffocation and consent in relation to stealthing.
The Government also recognises that this increased demand,
together with the unique challenges provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, has
required an increased investment in family and sexual violence support
services. This is why since the onset of
the COVID-19 pandemic, we have invested an extra $10.8 million in state
and national partnership funding for additional responses to family and sexual
violence. This includes
$6.1 million additional funding across nine specialist family and sexual
violence services to increase operational capacity and to respond to demand.
Our community-based family violence services do an
inspirational job of delivering confidential specialised family violence
responses for individuals and groups.
This includes therapeutic counselling, referral and information support to
establish safety, restore confidence and support personal recovery goals. Specialist community-based services also play
a very important role in primary prevention and early intervention through the
provision of information,
education and training to members of the community, and other service
providers, including in regard to non‑fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation
assist victims and survivors of non‑fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation
and stealthing, in his state of the state address the Premier announced that we
will be establishing multidisciplinary centres in Tasmania. These centres will ensure we are providing a
best-practice sexual and family violence response in Tasmania that puts
victims/survivors at the centre, including victims/survivors of the offences we
are talking about today.
Multidisciplinary centres are a proven model in other jurisdictions,
both nationally and internationally, as they ensure that victims/survivors of
family and sexual violence receive immediate and integrated wraparound support
in a safe place from a range of services.
This is a landmark outcome for victims/survivors who will be the centre
of this new support model.
this will be the most significant change in how we respond to family and sexual
violence since we came to government in 2014.
These new facilities will be a place where victims/survivors can access
the support and services that they need and, if they are ready, to formally report
these offences to specialist police investigators through the provision of
multidisciplinary support teams, including family and sexual support and
counselling services, witness intermediaries, police and other related
services. In addition, these new centres
will recognise the intersection between sexual and family violence by expanding
the capabilities and resourcing of the Safe Families Coordination Unit to
include sexual violence more broadly, therefore creating a multi‑agency
response and intelligence hub with more effective working relationships between
agencies for both sexual and family violence.
of multidisciplinary centres will address the increasing need for services for
both adult and children victims/survivors, and I am pleased to note that
funding will be included in this year’s Budget for the first of these centres,
with planning work already commenced which will be coordinated alongside the
development and release of our Government’s next family and sexual violence
Government is a strong supporter of primary prevention research and education,
because this is key to challenging attitudes and behaviours that contribute to
non‑fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing. This is why Tasmania is a foundation member
of Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, or ANROWS,
with our ongoing membership a dedicated action under Safe Homes, Families,
Communities. Our continued support for
ANROWS recognises the very important work that they do towards ensuring
evidence‑based approaches underpin all family and sexual violence priorities,
programs and services. ANROWS
commissions research by expert academics and practitioners and conducts its own
research. Research published or in
development includes Defining and
Responding to Coercive Control, while another one is titled Chuck Her on a Lie Detector: Investigating Australia’s Mistrust in Women’s
Report of Sexual Assault.
On 26 February 2022 ANROWS released two reports on intimate partner homicides which are relevant to the bill before us today. The first was Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network Data Report: Intimate Partner Violence Homicides 2010‑2018. This report found that in regard to fatal assaults, where a male homicide offender killed a female intimate partner, in 31 cases the cause of death was suffocation or strangulation. In 29 cases, death was due to multiple assaultive behaviours from the homicide offender, for example, suffocation or strangulation and assault with a blunt weapon. Of the male homicide offenders who killed their male intimate partner, only one suffocated the victim. Furthermore, physical violence including non‑fatal strangulation was used in 169 of 212 cases where a male primary domestic violence abuser killed a female domestic violence victim.
report is Pathways to Intimate Partner
Homicide Project: Key Stages and Events
in Male-Perpetrated Intimate Partner Homicide in Australia. This report discussed three pathways to
intimate partner homicide in offenders – fixated threat, persistent and
disorderly, and deterioration acute stressor.
The persistent and disorderly type is the most common pathway to
intimate partner homicide, with relationships characterised by persistent
intimate partner violence and frequent criminal justice contact.
Looking at the
nature of intimate partner violence within a relationship, there was evidence
that 79 per cent of persistent and disorderly offenders were abusive
towards their victim during their relationship.
Primarily, abuse was physical, including slapping, hitting, punching,
assaults with a weapon, and non‑fatal strangulation. This evidence graphically shows us that
eliminating family sexual violence will only occur if we stop it at the start
and address the underlying drivers of gendered violence to drive the long‑term
This is why our Government has also been a proud member of Our
Watch since 2015, and why in 2020 we commenced our nation-leading partnership
which established the role of Our Watch as senior advisor in Tasmania to
support and drive change in Tasmanian communities and settings.
On 6 March 2022 I was pleased to know that the
Australian Government announced additional funding of $189 million over
five years to strengthen prevention and early intervention efforts in family
sexual violence. The funding package
includes $104 million over five years for Our Watch, the largest
investment ever made to this outstanding organisation, to help expand its role
as a trusted source of training and advice and a national centre of excellence
on prevention, including helping to drive change in the corporate sector,
providing campaigns and resources that raise awareness around gendered
violence, and developing safety programs to be used in key settings such as
TAFEs, universities, the media, workplaces and sports organisations. Our Watch will also boost its efforts in
prevention for LGBTIQA+ Australians, Australians with disability, and migrant
women, and will develop further resources to educate young people about
These resources on consent will also assist with the respectful
relationships education being delivered in Tasmanian government schools, and I
am also pleased to see the recent announcement about embedding consent
education in the Australian school curriculum from early next year. The Australian Government has also committed
$48 million for a new campaign that focuses on confronting the attitudes
and expectations of some men which condones or excuses family violence;
$32 million for a consent campaign focused on young people 12 and older
and their parents; and $5 million to develop a survey of secondary school
students on issues related to consent. I
was also pleased to note that on 18 March as part of the Australian
Government’s announcement of a further $150 million funding, the
government is also committing an additional $46 million to roll out two
further phases of the Stop It at the Start campaign to help drive change in
people’s attitudes towards violence, including sexual violence, and to raise
awareness of new and emerging issues such as technology-facilitated abuse.
Under action 4 of Safe Homes, Families, Communities, we also
continue to support the Australian Government’s national campaign Stop It At
the Start, as well as the development of new activities to raise community
awareness of sexual violence, which will also help support the reforms we are
doing in this bill, and the community awareness campaign that will be developed
will help ensure that we send a clear and strong statement about the
seriousness of the harmful act of non-fatal strangulation.
Sadly, often without realising, adults play down boys
disrespectful behaviour, blame girls by questioning their role, and empathise
with males. These words and actions can
unintentionally shape young people’s views about more serious behaviour such as
non-fatal strangulation and stealthing, and this is why the national Stop It at
the Start campaign is helping to break this cycle of violence by supporting
adults to have conversations with young people about respect, encouraging
adults to reflect on their attitudes and behaviours, and providing bystander
strategies for both adults and young people to intervene where they see
This campaign will also now run alongside the other new
national campaigns to be developed and delivered, with an additional
$91 million Australian Government funding, which will run across mass
media channels including television, cinema, social media and bus stops. This campaign will help ensure that crucial
messages about consent are heard in every home around Australia so that we are
all empowered to have conversations with young people, our family and friends
about this important issue. These
campaigns will also be drawing on the success of campaigns such as Scotland’s Don’t
Be That Guy, as well as a second campaign that will ask men to consider how
they hold each other to account, because sexual violence should not be
considered a woman’s problem to solve.
Recent national conversations have highlighted the importance
of hearing from people with lived experience, which is why we are putting the
voices of victims/survivors at the centre of our consultation approach in
developing our next family and sexual violence action plan to be released in
July 2020. To inform the
development of our next action plan, we have already commenced a comprehensive
consultation process that engages with people with lived and diverse experience,
the community, and key stakeholders.
This consultation process will help us to develop a range of new
evidence-based initiatives based on feedback from those who are most impacted,
which is why we would really welcome hearing from victims/survivors of
non-fatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and stealthing.
I was pleased to recently launch the public consultation
process to inform the development of our next family and sexual violence action
plan, and I am very grateful that Mayor Mary Knowles OAM, as a
victim/survivor herself, has kindly agreed to be our consultation ambassador to
encourage other victims/survivors to share with us about their own personal
experiences. There are five key elements
of our community consultation, including the Hearing Lived Experience survey
2022; establishing a victim‑survivor advisory council; partnering with
Tasmanian Aboriginal people. There will
also be targeted workshops with stakeholders, especially those with diverse
lived experience, including people with disability, women from CALD
communities, women from rural and regional communities and LGBTIQA+ Tasmanians,
which will be held before and after Easter, as well as public written
submissions, which will be called for very soon.
The Hearing Lived Experience survey 2022 is an online public
survey for adult victim‑survivors with lived experience of family and sexual
violence. It will be providing an
opportunity for victim‑survivors to share their experiences. The survey will also build upon our previous
survey that was conducted in 2018 by also including people’s experiences of
sexual violence in addition to family violence and, importantly, provides
people with the opportunity to share their story anonymously. The survey is being promoted to family and
sexual violence service providers and a statewide advertising campaign and can
be accessed through the QR code on promotional posters from the Tasmanian
Government Safe from Violence website. I
thank all members in this parliament who have put up these posters in their
electorate offices to increase awareness and to encourage responses.
The survey is open for 12 months, giving people a chance to
have their say at a time that is safe for them.
We understand that relating a person’s experiences can be
traumatic. For people who cannot access
the internet, the survey is now available as a hardcopy booklet at all Service
Tasmania outlets, as well as local Neighbourhood Houses.
Information about the booklets is also being circulated to
local councils through the Local Government Association in Tasmania. For those councils who wish to participate,
posters and booklets were also made available for collection at the recent
Local Government Association of Tasmania conference
on 18 March 2022.
I am pleased to note that as of yesterday we have already
received 519 completed survey responses in just over five weeks. Given that the 2018 Hearing Lived Experience
survey received 500 responses in total, this is a fantastic level of take‑up in
such a short period of time.
Our awareness‑raising advertising campaign is also achieving a
fantastic reach with, as of yesterday, ads on social media generating over one
million impressions and over 12 500 link clicks and swipe ups. On Facebook, this has reached more than
80 000 unique users; on TikTok it has reached more than 72 000 unique
users and on Snapchat it has reached more than 30 000 distinct users.
In Tasmania we also have our Safe from Violence website, which
is designed to increase community awareness about family violence and its underlying
drivers; provide family sexual violence service contact information and
pathways to seeking support.
In February our Safe from Violence website had a 535 per
cent increase in monthly page views because of the launch of the Hearing Lived
Experience survey. It has also had
400 daily page views since the launch of the survey. This is fantastic because it means that more
people are going to the website and seeing how it provides clear and targeted
information. It also provides online
resources and links about family and sexual violence for a range of people,
including victim‑survivors, perpetrators, family and friends, children and
young people, service providers and the broader community. The website also provides targeted
information for groups that are at increased risk of experiencing violence or
who may experience additional barriers to seeking support, including children
and young people and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
The Safe from Violence website has had significantly increased
traffic due to the launch of the survey and the information and the resources
that it offers the community about family and sexual violence is
fantastic. As part of our awareness‑raising
campaign in regards to nonfatal strangulation, choking, suffocation and
stealthing, the website will be updated with this information and resources
produced to further increase awareness about these offences.
Development of the action plan will involve collaboration
across government. We will also be
working with the Family and Sexual Violence Community Consultative Group, our
Victim Survivor Advisory Council, as well as with a large number of government
and non‑government stakeholders and service providers. To cement the success of the next action plan,
I am also looking forward to working collaboratively with all of my
As I wrap up today, I commend my colleague, the
Attorney-General, on this bill and thank her for her outstanding dedication and
commitment to introducing a new standalone criminal offence of strangulation,
choking and suffocation, and to amend the definition of consent in relation to
stealthing. This builds on the work that
this Government and previous governments have already done. It will underpin our efforts to hold
perpetrators to account and will help deliver on our shared aim of eliminating
family and sexual violence.
I also thank the department for all that they have done in
drafting this bill.
this bill to the House.