Culture

Heck Yes, Affirmative Consent Laws Have Officially Been Passed In NSW

The bill is a historic win for survivors.

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Affirmative consent laws have been passed in New South Wales today, after the relevant bill passed in the lower house earlier this month.

— Content warning: This article contains mention of rape and sexual assault. —

MP for Newtown Jenny Leong broke the news on Twitter this afternoon. In Leong’s tweet, she praised Director of Advocacy at Rape and Sexual Assault Research Saxon Mullins.

Mullins has been one of the many advocates for affirmative consent laws and has been fighting for an affirmative consent bill to be passed since her alleged assault in 2013. “Every survivor and expert who helped this through changed the world today. Thank you,” Mullins tweeted after the bill was passed this afternoon.

Leong moved to make the amendment to the Crimes Legislation, making explicit affirmative consent, like words or actions, mandatory before immediately engaging in any sexual activity in NSW. The Affirmative Consent Bill and reforms will also help survivors in legal cases where the alleged abuser claims to have reasonable grounds that consent was given.

The new bill closes this loophole by recognising that sexual consent is not be presumed, and that consent involves ongoing and mutual communication. In a statement earlier this month, Leong said: “The Bill puts victim-survivors at the heart of the law, and removes rape myths and assumptions from the Crimes Act”.

Now, in sexual assault cases, the burden of proof is on the accused who must now show they had affirmative consent, rather than the victim to prove they didn’t. The bill was initially introduced by Cronulla MP and Attorney General and Minister for Prevention of Domestic and Sexual Violence Mark Speakman in October.

Speakman described the reform as “common sense”.

The bill passing today is a huge win for survivors of sexual assault in NSW.


Help is available if you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, rape or violence. If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

You can speak to someone about sexual violence by calling the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.

You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online if you are under 25.