A draft bill to introduce a new standalone criminal offence of non-fatal strangulation, choking and suffocation, and to amend the definition of ‘consent’ in relation to stealthing has been released today for community consultation.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government 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 violence.

It is never acceptable, which is why we went to the election promising to strengthen our laws and send a strong message it will not be tolerated in Tasmania.

The introduction of a standalone offence appropriately recognises the seriousness of this behaviour, allowing it to be charged and prosecuted as a specific indictable offence in its own right.

Importantly, it would carry a statutory maximum penalty of 21 years’ imprisonment – consistent with most crimes in the Criminal Code Act (1924).

It also addresses Action 30 of Safe Homes, Families, Communities: Tasmania’s action plan for family and sexual violence 2019-2022 which commits to implementing legislative reform to strengthen legal responses to family and sexual violence.

The Government has listened to our stakeholders and the community in drafting this legislation, and we encourage everyone interested to view the legislation and make a submission.

The Bill also amends the definition of consent in relation to ‘stealthing’ which has been the subject of legislative reform in other states.

Specific recognition of ‘stealthing’ in the law will help educate the public, discourage would-be offenders, and encourage complaints and prosecutions for sexual offences such as rape.

This legislation confirms we are continuing to ensure our laws are strong and robust to protect victim survivors of family violence, and ensure perpetrators are appropriately punished for the severity of their crimes.

The Bill is available for public comment through the Department of Justice website at https://www.justice.tas.gov.au/community-consultation/consultations/criminal-code-amendment-bill-2022, with submissions closing on Friday 18 February 2022.

Elise Archer, Attorney-General