The Nationals and Liberals last night stood up for victims of sexual assault in State Parliament, driving amendments to Justice Legislation Amendment (supporting Victims and Other Matters) Bill.
The law proposed by the Andrews Labor Government would have made it illegal to name deceased sexual assault victims in Victoria without first obtaining an expensive court order.
Following comprehensive debate, the Bill was voted down by The Nationals and Liberals and majority of crossbenchers.
In speaking on the Bill, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said she was privileged to share the vital work of survivor advocates, Tracy Oldham, Ashleigh Cooper and Nina Funnell and remember those families who have lost their loved ones in the most horrendous of circumstances and need to be able to tell their story.
Ms Bath also recognised the important role our local support agencies such as Gippsland Centre Against Sexual Assault play in supporting victims and assisting on the long road to healing and living again.
Ms Bath commended Eastern Victorian colleague and Shadow Attorney General, Edward O’Donohue for leading the debate that saw the Legislative Council pass an amendment that will now preserve the legal status quo for the families of deceased sexual assault victims.
Ms Bath said in addition to making it illegal for families to talk their personal experiences as victims, Labor shockingly failed to consult with sexual assault survivors and families.
“It was upsetting for victims of sexual and families that the Andrews Labor Government tried to pass a law without listening to the experiences and needs of those central to the issue.
“The Nationals and Liberals amendment will ensure families can continue to speak about their deceased loved one and puts a stop to Daniel Andrews’ plan to silence them, without obtaining an expensive court order,” said Ms Bath.
“Daniel Andrews now has a duty to accept these amendments and not maintain Labor’s misguided and hurtful position seeking to silence those who have already suffered too much.”
“The Bill must now to go back to the Lower House with significant amendments to maintain the status quo of victims and address the fundamental flaws.
“Our amendments are win for sexual assault victims and their families in Victoria, and I sincerely thank the brave individuals who shared their incredibly personal and harrowing stories with me for the debate. Your voices have been heard and understood.”