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  • The NSW government has overhauled the law around sexual offences and has introduced new offences.
  • The terms ‘sexual touching’ and ‘sexual act’ are introduced, as is a ‘similar age’ defence.
  • Offenders are now to be sentenced according to current sentencing patterns.

In June this year, the New South Wales government passed the Criminal Legislation Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Bill 2018 (‘the Bill’). This Bill substantially reorganises, redefines and, in some discrete areas, revolutionises the law in respect of sexual offences in New South Wales. At the time of writing, the Bill had received assent and has commenced in part. This article catalogues the changes and explains their significance for practitioners.


In his second reading speech, Attorney General Mark Speakman MP expressed the desire of government to ‘rationalise and consolidate our offence framework and improve the chances of successful prosecution of child sexual offences, while reducing criminalisation of children.’ He also pointed to the ways in which the legislation would respond to the ‘specific recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, not to mention the work of the Child Sexual Offences Review.’

A number of new offences have been created; others significantly amended. New defences have been introduced, and changes  have also been made to the law surrounding the running of trials for sexual offences.

All sections referred to below are references to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) unless otherwise indicated.

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