The Northern Territory news Mon 16 Mar 2020
The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT
Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin
News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
MONDAY MARCH 16 2020 LET HER SPEAK 07 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA Survivors, advocates, lawyers support Sandra NINA FURNELL RAPE survivors, victims advocates and legal experts have joined forces behind a sexual assault survivor, Sandra, who is being gagged by an archaic law which silences all sexual assault survivors in the Northern Territory. Sandra, 38, was raped in 2017 when working as an adult performer at a bucks party outside of Darwin. The offender, Kevin Willcocks, was found guilty in 2019 and sentenced to three and a half years jail, suspended after nine months. He was released from jail in November last year. Sandra whose real name is being withheld now wants to tell her story in a featurelength documentary which explores victim blaming and slut shaming in the criminal justice system. However, an outdated law section 6 of the Sexual Offences Evidence and Procedure Act prohibits all sexual assault survivors from being named, regardless of their consent. Any journalist who does name Sandra, as she wishes, can face six months jail or heavy fines. Theoretically, sexual assault victims can also be prosecuted if they reveal their own identity. In response, Sandra has now joined the #LetHerSpeak campaign to reform the victim gag-law. She is supported by over a dozen rape and sexual assault survivors from across the country who believe she should have the right to tell her story under her real name. Its important for victims of sexual assault to be able to tell their own story after an assault because it can help with the healing process, Sandra said. The ability to make that choice gives a little power back to someone who has had so much taken from them. By gagging victims against their will youre robbing them of their own unique voice. For change to happen more voices need to be heard. The Attorney-General, Natasha Fyles, agrees the law needs reforming. The #LetHerSpeak campaign has been a powerful one both here in the NT and across Australia Ms Fyles said. Off the back of the #LetHerSpeak campaign the Territory Labor Government acknowledges that there may be victims who want to tell their stories and therefore waive the prohibition on publication. Some victims of sexual assault want privacy and anonymity, and this government respects that too. The Government called for submissions in November last year and a report is due to be tabled later this month. Once it is tabled it will be scheduled for debate. However Sandras lawyer, Michael Bradley of Marque Lawyers, says the proposed changes to the law will not assist Sandra, because victims would only be able to speak out once all avenues of appeal are exhausted. In Sandras case this is of particular relevance, as although Willcocks was released from jail last year, he is appealing his conviction. There are a number of reasons why a convicted sex offender might appeal their conviction, Mr Bradley said. If successful, it would mean they dont have a criminal record following them for the rest of their lives and they wont have to be on the sex offender register. While the NT Government has now recognised that the gag-law is a bad law, its draft amending bill would still unjustifiably remove agency from victims in Sandras position. The Government needs to recognise that, in the context of sexual crimes, the first interest that the legal system must look to protect is that of the victim. Basic regard for human dignity demands that, but the NT Government isnt quite there yet. Ms Fyles says the Legislation Scrutiny Committee will consider all submissions and concerns raised. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000 Darwin sexual assault survivor Sandra (not her real name) wants to tell her story but is prevented from doing so by draconian NT laws Picture: MARIEL THOMAS Extension for power rebate QUEENSLANDS Labor Government has extended an annual $50 rebate on household power bills for the next three years at a cost of $300 million. The rebate started in 2018 and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced yesterday that it would continue for a further three years with the rebate automatically added as a credit to electricity bills later this year. The $50 credit will apply to homeowners, tenants, customers who receive an electricity bill from their landlord or body corporate, and customers with card-operated meters. 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