Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sexual Harrassment

The David Jones case involving Kristy Fraser-Kirk against former chief executive Mark McInnes raised the profile of sexual harrasment cases.  It was a wake up call to organisations that they needed to have policies and procedures in place to deal with allegations of harrasment or face serious claims against them in court.  Recent research by academics Sara Charlesworth and Paula McDonald (to view report click here) based on data from 284 complaints found that 90 percent of alleged offenders were male and almost all victims were female.  In addition, although the David Jones case with its multi million dollar claim has stayed in most of our minds the average payout was $13 596. The Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission's statistics found that rather than put in a claim one in five people just resigned. A legal firm which handles sexual harrasment cases suggested that the number of sexual harrasment allegations had fallen in most workplaces and that victims were more willing to speak out and take legal action.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Sexting

Most sexting is between young people who are involved in a consensual relationship.  It becomes complicated when one party to the relationship is under age and the other is over 18 years of age. Recently a number young people who have sent explict pictures either to their girlfriend or boyfriend under 15 years of age have found themselves charged with breach of age of consent laws.  Then when convicted there has been an automatic registration on the Sex Offenders Register for up to 15 years or life. The legislation establishing the Sex Offender Register was never intended to deal with young offenders who pose no threat to children or other young people. It was intended to keep children safe from high risk predators. The Government has two inquiries dealing with the issue of sexting amongst other matters. The Victorian Law Reform Commission's (VLRC) report into the registration of sex offenders was tabled in State Parliament. One of the reports recommendations is that young people convicted of sexting no longer be automatically put on the Register. The second inquiry is due to report at the end of the year with its main focus sexting and the appropriate penalties and ways of dealing with offences.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Parliamentary Inquiry Into Churches Handling of Sex Offences

Sexual abuse of children is a crime committed in private without witnesses.  Organisations that deal with this abuse in private, behind closed doors just strengthen the systems that enable the abuse to take place in the first place.  It has taken a long while for a Victorian Government to announce an inquiry into the handling of child sexual assaults within religious communities.  Now the Parliamentary Inquiry has been announced it is to be hoped that it will have sufficient resources to undertake this task in an effective manner. 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

High Court Overturns Victoria Court of Appeal in Getachew Case

The High Court has called into question the technicality in relation to consent and directions to juries used to appeal a number of rape cases in Victoria.  Tomas Getachew raped a woman who was asleep. The case went to retrial after the Court of Appeal ruled the trial judge did not give a particular direction about consent to the jury.  As the Victorian Law Reform Commission has pointed out the number and complexity of jury directions in Victoria has increased markedly over the past 25 years.  It is time for the Government to look at reforming jury directions so that errors in direction will not result in more unnecessary appeals and retrials.