President of the Law Society of NSW, Richard Harvey, said the Law Society welcomed proposed changes to the offence of concealing a serious indictable offence under section 316 of the Crimes Act 1900.
The amendment to the Act, which has been introduced into NSW Parliament, provides an exemption in adult cases of sexual or family violence offences where the individual does not want the matter reported to police.
“This is a welcome and appropriate reform that will ensure victims of sexual, domestic and family violence can seek appropriate support without the fear that their support worker has to report the offence to the police or risk criminal prosecution,” Mr Harvey said.
“Under the proposed reforms it will be considered a ‘reasonable excuse’ if the adult victim does not wish to report the offence to the police, thereby eliminating the risk of prosecution for those people who work for support services and are assisting people affected by sexual, domestic and family violence.
“This also applies to other people who may receive information about such offences, including family, friends, members of a workplace or educational institution attended by the victim.
“The Law Society’s view is that is appropriate that these people are not committing an offence merely by complying with the alleged victim’s wishes.
“The amendment should reflect a trauma-informed approach, whereby an adult victim of a sexual or family violence offence is empowered to decide what action should be taken in response to the offence against them,” Mr Harvey said.