Statement on Lehrmann v Network Ten and Ors

Justice Michael Lee delivered a thorough decision on the Lehrmann v Network Ten and Ors case today that has found on the balance of probabilities that Bruce Lehrmann raped Brittany Higgins in Parliament House in 2019.

“In his pursuit of gratification he did not care one way or another whether Ms Higgins understood or agreed.”

CWSW stands in solidarity with victim-survivors of sexual assault across Australia today in light of this decision The judgement today sends a clear message to Brittany Higgins – the court believes you. However, while today’s decision was a good outcome, it was not justice for Brittany nor other victim-survivors.

Justice Lee’s judgment today demonstrated decision making that took into account trauma responses to sexual assault and how victim-survivors can respond in many different ways. The considered approach that Justice Lee gave to dealing with consent, trauma and rape myths is one that we hope will be mirrored in the future.

Despite this, the case has highlighted how the justice system must do better for victims of sexual assault and violence. It shows how the justice system is weaponised to create further harm and silence victim-survivors from speaking out about the sexual violence perpetrated against them.

Victim survivors of sexual violence need to be supported every step of the way; to be heard; to have a voice; and to see the person responsible held to account. Instead, the justice system often leaves them feeling alone, invisible, and as if they are the ones on trial.

We need strong models of affirmative consent and everyone who works on sexual offence matters, including judges, magistrates and barristers, should have appropriate knowledge and skills. Juries need better directions from the judge about rape myths, and more access to expert witnesses.

The ‘system’ for responding to sexual violence is under strain. It is urgent for the Western Australian government to invest in the system and create a governance structure that supports everyone to work together effectively and ensures accountability.

For immediate help and support please contact 1800 Respect 1800 737 732.



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