In 2001, the Commission was asked to consider ways the system could become more responsive to sexual offence complainants to encourage more people to report offences to police and see the case through to trial.
In December 2001, the Commission published a discussion paper on the substantive law relating to sexual offences.
In June 2003, the Commission published an interim report on sexual offences. The interim report sought responses to 107 recommendations for legislative, and administrative and procedural changes that were intended to improve the treatment of adults and children who report they have been victims of sexual offences, whilst ensuring that people accused of sexual offences continue to receive a fair trial.
The Commission received 75 submissions in response to the discussion paper and a further 55 submissions following publication of the interim report.
The final report was tabled in parliament on 25 August 2004.
Many of the Commission’s legislative and system-wide recommendations in relation to sexual offences have been implemented.
In 2006, the Victorian Parliament introduced a number of reforms to both the procedural and substantive law governing sexual offences and the prosecution of those offences in response to the Commission’s report. The legislative reforms are contained in the Crimes (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 and the Crimes (Sexual Offences) (Further Amendment) Act 2006, and the Crimes Amendment (Rape) Act 2007. The reforms resulted in the amendment of existing sexual offences and the procedures regulating the prosecution of sexual offences in a court proceeding.
The government also developed a comprehensive sexual assault reform package to coordinate and deliver system-wide reforms including the:
- establishment of multidisciplinary centres by Victoria Police
- introduction of sexual assault forensic nurses
- introduction of specialist sex offences lists in the Magistrates’ and County Courts
- introduction of specialist prosecutors
- establishment of a child witness service
- establishment of a treatment program for 15–18 year olds
- introduction of a Victims’ Charter.