New sexual offences law to commence March 30

Important Information for Service Users and Service Providers: "New Protections for Vulnerable People in South Australia"

Late last year the South Australian Parliament passed the Criminal Law Consolidation (Sexual Offences - Cognitive Impairment) Amendment Bill.

It creates a new offence, sexual exploitation of person with a cognitive impairment.

This new law will provide an extra deterrence to potential perpetrators who might exploit positions of power and trust with their clients It applies to people who provide a service, whether for remuneration or not.

The new law creates two new offences.

 A person who provides a service to a person with a cognitive impairment, is guilty of an offence if he or she obtains or procures, by undue influence, sexual intercourse or indecent contact with that person.

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years.

There is also a second new offence of behaving in an indecent manner in the presence of that person, if it is without the person’s consent, or consent is obtained by undue influence. 

The maximum penalty for a first offence is imprisonment for 3 years, and up to 5 years for a subsequent offence.

Service providers - Presumption of Undue Influence

A defendant who is in this position of power, trust or authority in relation to the victim of the offences, is presumed to have obtained the consent of the victim by undue influence unless the defendant proves the contrary on the balance of probabilities.

These new offences, developed as part of the Government’s Disability Justice Strategy, will also be relevant across mental health, general health, aged care and other social services as well.

Cognitive impairment in this Act includes, an intellectual disability; a developmental disorder(including an autistic spectrum disorder); a neurological disorder; dementia; a severe mental illness; and a brain injury. 

Further information

A link to the new amendment is below.

The new amendment can be read by clicking here. (external link to SA Legislation site).