Queensland Law Society

Changes to Sexual Assault Counselling privilege

The Victims of Crime Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 (VOCAOLA) amends a number of pieces of legislation including the Evidence Act 1977 to introduce protections for certain counselling communications.

This new statutory evidentiary privilege is referred to as the sexual assault counselling privilege (SACP) and provides absolute privilege in preliminary court proceedings for an aggrieved person’s communications with a counsellor.

Oral and written communications would remain confidential unless the aggrieved waives the privilege, or the privilege is lost. In other criminal proceedings, a respondent would not be able to access the counselling communication unless a court granted leave. Relevant CPR And UCPR Subpoena forms have been amended to accommodate the inclusion of the SACP. Forms relevant to other legislation are currently being considered for amendment; further advice will be provided in relation to these once finalised.