The Department of Justice Annual Report 2019-20, tabled in State Parliament today, highlights the significant legislative reforms delivered by the Tasmanian Government in the last financial year.
Among these were the important amendments to Section 194K of the Evidence Act 2001, which provided victims of sexual assault the right to speak out publically should they wish to do so. These reforms were the product of extensive consultation with the legal sector, survivors and their representatives, and strike the appropriate balance between allowing victims to tell their stories while maintaining an important series of safeguards for victims and those who cannot provide consent.
In addition, the passage of the Criminal Code and Related Legislation Amendment (Child Abuse) Bill 2008 ensure better protection for children, including removing the ability of religious ministry to rely on the confessional privilege to refuse to disclose information. The legislation also provides additional protections to young victims in reducing the number of times they have to give evidence, as well as protections to further classes of vulnerable victims.
Another crucial reform was the updating and modernising of the language used by the Criminal Code Act 1924 to ensure it better reflects the true nature of sexual crimes, particularly those involving young people.
Our Government also helped to close a loophole for offenders to avoid convictions for manslaughter in ‘one-punch’ or ‘coward’s punch’ incidents.
Along with these important legislative reforms, our Government is working to deliver key infrastructure for the State’s corrections system, including the new $70 million Southern Remand Centre due for completion in late 2021, and the Northern Regional Prison which will create more than 1000 Tasmanian jobs while delivering an economic boost of $500 million to the region.
Elise Archer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice