South Australians would be able to know the identity of people charged with sex offences once they face court under reforms to suppression laws to be introduced to State Parliament today.
Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said that, under the changes, automatic suppression orders would no longer be in place after the first court hearing.
“We believe that, in the vast majority of cases, the public has the right to know the identity of someone who has been charged with an offence of this nature,” Ms Chapman said.
“No other offence allows for an automatic suppression order, and our reforms seek to address that imbalance.
“Where the court deems it necessary, a suppression order can still be imposed – but this will be a consistent process for all offences, recognising there may be valid reasons for a suppression order, such as if there is an active investigation or if evidence is still being gathered.”
Attorney-General Chapman said the proposed reforms would bring South Australia in line with other states and territories.
“Currently only South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory prohibit identifying an accused charged with serious offences until they are committed for trial to a superior court,” Ms Chapman said.
“The changes will not impact on measures to protect the identity of the victim of a sexual offence, though adult alleged victims will now be able to speak publicly about the charges if they wish to do so.”
Ms Chapman said the reforms are in line with recommendations made by retired Supreme Court Judge the Hon Brian Martin AO QC in his 2011 review of the subject.
Currently under the Evidence Act, there is an automatic suppression on the reporting of sexual offences and offenders until the accused person pleads or is found guilty, or is committed for trial to a higher court.
Keeping the law and our policies current and relevant is a key priority within South Australia’s Justice Agenda, which can be found here: https://www.agd.sa.gov.au/sites/default/files/1852_justicestrategydocument_v20.pdf