This review of Australia's rape law reform focuses on the definition of rape, marital rape, grades of offense, consent, evidence admissibility, complaint and corroboration, and unsworn statements in criminal trials.
In the late 1960's and early 1970's, the clamor for rape law reform in Australia prompted legislatures throughout the country to review their rape laws. The first major reform occurred in South Australia in 1976, followed by Victoria in 1980 and New South Wales in 1981. These reforms involved the expansion of the definition of 'sexual assualt' to include a variety of forms of sexual abuse. Reforms also focused on a definition for marital rape, grades of sexual assault offenses, a more precise definition of consent, and restrictions on evidence pertaining to the alleged victim's sexual history. Other law changes pertain to jury instructions regarding corroboration in a rape case and the significance of the timing of the alleged victim's complaint. There has also been legislative debate about the defendant's right to make an unsworn statement without cross-examination. Rape law reforms in States other than South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales have been moderate, mainly relating to rules of evidence. 15 footnotes and 72 references.
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