Communities and Justice

About the Law Reform Commission’s Report 148: Consent in relation to sexual offences

In May 2018, the NSW Attorney General asked the NSW Law Reform Commission to review sexual consent laws and report on whether the laws need to be amended to better protect victims. The Commission consulted widely over three years and received extensive feedback, including almost 200 written submissions and more than 3,850 survey responses.

Report 148: Consent in relation to sexual offences (the Consent Review) was tabled in Parliament on 18 November 2020. It makes 44 recommendations, including:

  • 40 recommendations for immediate legislative amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 and to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (CPA)
  • 3 non-legislative recommendations about education, communication and ongoing research
  • 1 recommendation for later legislative reform to be deferred until a statutory review of the amended legislation is undertaken.

The recommendations aim to:

  • simplify and modernise the structure and language about consent law in the Crimes Act, including:
    • introducing objectives to explain the purpose of the law of consent
    • clarifying the meaning of consent
    • modifying the list of circumstances in which the law provides that a person does not consent
    • clarifying the law with respect of knowledge of non-consent.
  • make the definitions of the offences of "sexual intercourse", "sexual touching" and "sexual act" in the Crimes Act clearer and more inclusive.
  • introduce new jury directions about consent to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to address identified misconceptions about consent.
  • amend the Criminal Procedure Act 1986 to provide flexibility for the use of jury directions and to reinforce that judges may give and repeat the directions at any time.
  • provide for a statutory review of enacted recommendations after five years.
  • educate judges, lawyers, police and the community about any changes to the law of consent.

For more information on the Consent Review and its recommendations, including a copy of Report 148 and key stakeholder submissions, please visit the Law Reform Commission website.

Last updated:

31 Aug 2023