New consent laws come into force in NSW TODAY


Affirmative sexual consent is now legally required in NSW, five months after the state parliament passed reforms to strengthen protections.

Last November, the NSW parliament passed an amendment which clarifies, modernises and simplifies consent law.

The new law defines consent as a free and voluntary agreement that cannot be presumed, and involves ongoing, mutual communication.

The laws also clarified that if a person consents to one sex act, it does not mean they have consented to other acts.

The amendment clarifies a person who is asleep, unconscious or intoxicated is not able to consent, with the government set to issue new directions to juries involved in assault trials.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman said the new laws clarify that to engage in sexual activity with somebody, a person needs to say something to show consent, or needs to do or say something to seek consent.

“These laws set clearer boundaries for consensual sex, reinforce the basic principle of common decency that consent is a free choice involving mutual and ongoing communication, and reinforce that consent should not be presumed,” Mr Speakman said.

The attorney-general said the reforms were just one part of tackling sexual violence in NSW.

“The consent reforms are not just about holding perpetrators to account, but changing social behaviour with clearer rules of engagement to drive down the rate of sexual assaults,” Mr Speakman said.

The government launched an awareness campaign in the lead up to the implementation of the laws, and the attorney-general said he was committed to ensuring the community understood the changes.

Over the last six months the NSW government has also worked with judicial officers, prosecutors, defence lawyers and police to ensure they are well-informed about the change.

The change is expected to improve the experience for victims within the justice system, and five new directions will be available for judges to hand to juries, to address misconceptions about consent.

Those directions will clarify that sexual assault can occur in many situations including between acquaintances and married couples; that sexual offences do not always include violence or result in injuries; there are no ‘typical’ responses to sexual assault; trauma affects all victims differently; and consent cannot be assumed due to behaviour including clothing, alcohol or drug consumption.

The change in law followed a review by the NSW Law Reforms Commission which took in more than 190 submissions and extensive community consultation.

The review was prompted by survivor and advocate Saxon Mullins sharing her story on ABC’s Four Corners in 2018.

Under the new legislation in NSW consent must be ‘clearly communicated’ and ‘ongoing’ meaning all parties must say or do something that demonstrates their willingness to continue. Pictured: A TV ad campaign highlighting the changes

AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT LAWS EXPLAINED 

* Under the new consent laws, people will not be able to assume consent from somebody because they don’t say no – silence is not consent.

* Consent is considered an ongoing process, and a person can change their mind or withdraw consent at any time.

* A person will not be able to consent if they are so intoxicated they can not make a choice, or refuse.

* Consent can only be given freely and voluntarily, and cannot involve coercion or force.

* Just because a person consents to one sexual act does not mean they have consented to others – consent must be present for all acts.

* Consent cannot be given by people who are asleep or unconscious.

The new laws coincide with a statewide campaign about sexual consent involving TV ads explaining the changes with the tag line Make No Doubt

The new laws coincide with a statewide campaign about sexual consent involving TV ads explaining the changes with the tag line Make No Doubt

HUNDREDS of private schoolgirls come forward to detail horrific sexual assaults by boys from some of Australia’s most prestigious schools – and slam the ‘sickening magnitude’ of the problem

BY ALANA TINDALE AND KIRSTEN JELINEK FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA 

Hundreds of girls from some of Australia’s top private schools have claimed they were sexually assaulted and raped by their male peers.

Dozens of harrowing claims have emerged due to a petition started to demand schools implement better sex consent education.

The petition, launched on Thursday by former Kambala student Chanel Contos, 22, has uncovered disturbing allegations against boys from prestigious private schools. 

Nearly 7000 people, including many former students of private schools, have signed the petition or shared stories of their own alleged assaults.

Hundreds of girls who attended Sydney private schools has claimed they were sexually assaulted and raped by private school boys and are demanding schools implement better sex consent education. Pictured: Chanel Contos is calling for better sex education

Hundreds of girls who attended Sydney private schools has claimed they were sexually assaulted and raped by private school boys and are demanding schools implement better sex consent education. Pictured: Chanel Contos is calling for better sex education

Ms Contos said Kambala High School (pictured) gave her a 'great consent education but they gave it too late'

Ms Contos said Kambala High School (pictured) gave her a ‘great consent education but they gave it too late’

Chantel Contos' petition now has signatures from close to 7,000 former and current school students across Australia

Chantel Contos’ petition now has signatures from close to 7,000 former and current school students across Australia 

Ms Contos told Daily Mail Australia she started the petition after her friend confided in her about a sexual assault case that happened when she was 14-years-old. 

‘When I saw how distressed she was eight, nine years later, I knew that something had to be done,’ she said. 

‘The realisation you’ve been sexually assaulted, it’s a hard thing to go through’.  

Ms Contos said she was forced to give oral sex to a boy when she was in Year 8, but did not realise she had been raped or learn about consent until she attended a sex consent class in Year 10 that presented by a former police officer. 

At least 1,500 former students have signed the petition or shared stories of their own alleged assaults, with some boys even saying they perpetrated assault as students. Pictured: Chantel Contos said she was forced to perform oral sex as her first sexual experience

At least 1,500 former students have signed the petition or shared stories of their own alleged assaults, with some boys even saying they perpetrated assault as students. Pictured: Chantel Contos said she was forced to perform oral sex as her first sexual experience

Ms Contos' petition now has 6,400 signatures and nearly 700 testimonies from woman aged between 13 to 50-years-old from across Australia

The petition has now spread to schools across Australia with hundreds of testimonies sent in

Ms Contos’ petition now has 6,400 signatures and nearly 700 testimonies from woman aged between 13 to 50-years-old from across Australia 

‘I was angry, but also had a sense of clarity around that I had in fact been sexually abused,’ she said. 

But she wasn’t the only girl who realized they had just been sexually abused. 

‘I walked out of that room together with my friends and I remember the girls saying ‘my guy could get seven years’ or ‘mine could go to jail for 17 years’,’ she recalled. 

Ms Contos said despite her school giving her a ‘great consent education, they gave it too late.’

‘A lot of people are already sexually active by 15 or 16, and you need to have this consent training before you become sexually active’, she said.  

‘People who have contacted me have said they received no consent sexual education, especially boys schools said that it was minimal to none.’

Ms Contos’ petition now has 6,400 signatures and nearly 700 testimonies from woman aged between 13 to 50-years-old from across Australia. 

Allegations outlined in testimonials on the petition including being drugged and raped, being assaulted while intoxicated, waking up to find boyfriends having sex with them and being forced to perform oral sex.

Ms Contos said two boys have left testimonies allegedly they have also experienced sexual assault, and around 15 have messaged to say they are questioning their past sexual experiences. 

Some former private schoolboys even confessed anonymously to perpetrating sexual assault or harassment, saying they regretted their actions. 

Ms Contos updates her followers online that over 300 testimonies had been sent into the petition in the last 24 hours alone

Ms Contos updates her followers online that over 300 testimonies had been sent into the petition in the last 24 hours alone 

‘When I was younger I hooked up with a girl at a party when she was so drunk she couldn’t stand. Since then I have apologised to her and she has accepted,’ wrote one person who said they were a student at in 2015.

‘However I still think about the potential damage I did to her and wonder what longstanding damage I could’ve done to her as an adult.’  

Testimonials on the petition have accused unnamed students from Sydney’s most exclusive all-boy schools, including Scots, Cranbrook, Sydney Grammar School, St Joseph’s, Waverley, St Ignatius Riverview, and Shore.

Women said they had attended all-girls schools including Kambala, Kincoppal-Rose Bay, St Catherine’s School, Pymble Ladies College, Wenona, Queenwood and Monte Sant’ Angelo Mercy College. 

The petition called for schools to provide consent sex education to students ‘from a young age.’ 

Chantel Contos (pictured) is calling for schools to provide consent sexual education to students from a young age

Chantel Contos (pictured) is calling for schools to provide consent sexual education to students from a young age 

Testimonials on the petition have accused unnamed students from Sydney's most exclusive all-boy schools, including St Ignatius Riverview (pictured)

Testimonials on the petition have accused unnamed students from Sydney’s most exclusive all-boy schools, including St Ignatius Riverview (pictured) 

‘These are uncomfortable conversations to have with young teenagers,’ it reads.

‘[But] it is far more uncomfortable to live knowing that something happened to you, or a friend, or perhaps that you were even the perpetrator of it, and it could have been avoided.’

Schools told the Sydney Morning Herald they needed to be allowed to teach consent and sex education without being restrained by politics.

‘It is also essential that schools (both public and independent) are allowed to teach about such matters rather than have them being constrained by the personal but public opinions of politicians or criticised when wanting to educate around sexuality,’ said Wenona principal Dr Briony Scott. 

St Catherine’s School headmistress Dr Julie Townsend said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to read the testimonials. 

‘It is clear from these girls’ testimonies that many of them have suffered in silence for years, and we need to ensure that, not only do they understand what assault is, but know their rights in reporting it and charging someone,’ she said.   

Principal of boys school Waverley College Graham Leddie said schools needed to be held to ‘a high standard.’  

‘We need to raise our expectations of a generation of boys in Australia that have a reputation for being self-serving, entitled and craving instant gratification,’ he said.

Chanel Contos' petition nearly has 7,000 signatures from men and women across Australia

Chanel Contos’ petition nearly has 7,000 signatures from men and women across Australia

Ms Contos (pictured) said she hopes the petition will bring change to sexuality education to students across Australia

Ms Contos (pictured) said she hopes the petition will bring change to sexuality education to students across Australia 

Ms Contos said she’s thankful for the discussions and reflection the petition has opened across Australia and worldwide.   

‘I hope the petition brings change to sexuality education, it needs to be more holistic, not by only incorporating consent, but also the forces that shape behaviors such as toxic masculinity and rape culture’, she said. 

‘I hope this will better equip younger generations, so they never had the delayed realization that they’ve been victims or perpetrators of sexual assault’. 

If this story has raised issues for you, please contact 1800 Respect 1800 737 732, Lifeline 13 11 14, beyondblue 1300 224 636, Domestic Violence Line 1800 65 64 63

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