Ashleigh Rae on Your Voice and Accountability in Recovering from Sexual Violence



Welcome Melissa. Thank you so much for having me Teri. It's amazing. I want to start with the fact that you're you're conducting this interview under a stooge him because currently in Australia where you're based. There is a court situation where survivors of sexual violence are under a gag order essentially from speaking out publicly about their experience. So let's start there with this the law or the policy actually say, yeah. It's a birth of a situation for survivors. So basically what happened is our state government in Victoria was tinkering with one bit of our legislation around suppression orders and they cross you've got tunnel vision and didn't do their do diligence in terms of consultation and looking at who would actually be affected and what the outcomes of this would be and in trying to correct one bit of leads. Relation, that would make things a bit easier in one respect. They've ended up with this for lack of a better word. I'm this clusterfuck of a situation. Sorry for the swearing and it's now judicial proceedings Reporting Act which basically means that for a survivor of sexual violence to publicly speak out. They can't use their own name and you actually face up to 84 months in prison or jail and a fine or a combination of the two and if a media Outlet say like any of our television broadcasting Network's radio, what have you even if it's a podcast if they violate that and they publish a real name without a court order they're liable for a fairly Hefty fine as well. So that essentially means you don't have the right to your voice in Victoria in my state. You have to apply to the court for the right to tell your story if when and how you choose so we're currently going through that. Okay, so let me get off. Straight if you were to move to another province in Australia, would you have the right if you're outside of Victoria know so it applies to cases where there's a conviction secured in the same Victoria. So without going into too much more detail there that means I'm gagged from speaking because I have convictions within Victoria. And you said the intention was not to gag survivors of sexual violence, but now that this impact has happened. What are the people who propose this policy? What are they doing to rectify it? If anything that's a really good question. I wish I had a really good answer for you. It's been it's been a Survivor LED movement to hack the government to account here, which is been initiated by a journalist in Melbourne. Nina Finnell with the letters speak campaign, and it's been incredible. So we are really going hard at home. The government and saying you need to be more transparent and accountable personally. I've had several interactions with a Department of Justice. I met with them last week and we had a very long conversation about all of the areas not just in the law itself, but also in how they handled the public relations aspect of when it did come in out into the media and how awful that had Bane and letting them know that essentially the government had gas-lit survivors and knowing that young girls and boys and yet people were going to be watching this and feeling life. They couldn't come forward and Report because they were going to be gagged. What was the point really undermining all of the work that so many survivors and now police have done in encouraging people to actually come forward port. So what is the impact of this new legislation on the convicted perpetrators are they allowed to speak? Oh, it's a field die for them wage and part of the reason for that is because in the process of obtaining a court order somehow and we don't actually have transparent reasoning why this is something that we've demanded to know from our judges wage is that perpetrators have been notified and even asked for their views on this so it's it's fantastic for them. It really gives power back to them and takes away from the Survivor, which is really not. Okay. So as far as I'm aware perpetrators are free to speak to the media. There's very little holding them back except that Australia has really strong defamation laws, and that would be the only concern I'm aware of that they'd have so from an outsider's perspective the seems like blatant sex discrimination, especially if most wage Survivors of sexual assault are women and if those women aren't allowed to speak and the men who are convicted of these crimes are it seems like it's an issue that should be of national importance to fix. What is the, you know highest level of government doing about it if anything. That's such a good question. It's in in the context of Australia as a whole we've had amazing progress in terms of I'm gagging survivors. So it took several of our state's we actually had long-standing entrenched laws that prevented survivors from publicly speaking out and interpersonal actually run some really successful campaigns in the Northern Territory and also in Tasmania always in the last 18 months and she got those laws revoked amended. So that survivors could actually speak out. So they've had the right to speak before which

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