Victims of intimate image abuse will have the same court protections as other sexual assault complainants while judicial officers will have greater powers to order images and recordings be destroyed, under legislation introduced in NSW Parliament this week.
Baulkham Hills State Liberal MP David Elliott said the proposed Criminal Procedure Act 1986 reforms acknowledge the seriousness of these types of offences and how distressing they for victims.
“These reforms are aimed at helping to reduce the trauma of the court process that can often involve lengthy questioning about intimate details of the offence,” Mr Elliott said.
The proposed reforms mean victims can give evidence remotely and in a closed court, access a support person, have their identity protected from publication, and avoid cross-examination by an unrepresented accused personally.
“It is vital victims and the Baulkham Hills community understand that if they report intimate image abuse that they will be appropriately supported in court,” Mr Elliott said.
The proposed reforms also allow the court to order an offender to remove, retract, delete or destroy an intimate image when found guilty of threatening to distribute it without consent.
“What happens to intimate images can understandably cause ongoing fear for victims, so our Bill seeks to address that anxiety too, so they can have peace of mind,” Mr Elliott said.
Today’s Bill reinforces the Government’s commitment to addressing this vile form of intimate abuse and follows its implementation of the Crimes Amendment (Intimate Images) Act 2017.
“Unfortunately, the rapid advent of technology has facilitated a rise in this type of criminal behaviour – with hundreds of charges having being laid in the last couple of years,” Mr Elliott said.
“These statistics show why it is crucial that our justice response keeps pace with technology.”
Research by the e-Safety Commissioner indicates 11 per cent of Australian adults have experienced image-based abuse. According to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, there were 296 charges for intimate image offences between July 2018 and June 2019, while 420 charges have been laid between July 2019 and June this year.
Visit the NSW Parliament website for further details on the Bill.