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A ‘fair go’ for child abuse victims in landmark legislation reform

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A historic reform to NSW law will see victims of child sexual assault get a “fairer go in court”, in a nationwide first.

The Evidence Amendment (Tendency and Coincidence) Act 2020 is designed to allow evidence about an accused person’s sexual interest in children, including the evidence used in prior convictions, to be considered by the jury in child sexual assault proceedings.

The legislation was passed in line with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which found the exclusion of this kind of evidence led to cases of ‘unwarranted acquittals’.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman told Ray Hadley the reform would ensure victims of abuse get a “fairer go in court”.

He hopes the greater chance of conviction will encourage more victims to come forward.

“Typically it takes more than 20 years for a complainant to come forward. It’s not because they’re concocting the case, it’s because they’ve suppressed the dreadful memories they’ve got.”

“Thanks for your advocacy in this general area, Ray,” Mr Speakman said.

“The test of a government is how it looks after the vulnerable.

“It’s pretty hard to think of any group that are more vulnerable than child sex offence victims.”