Sexual consent can’t be assumed: NSW government

Sexual consent laws in NSW will be reviewed after the state government questioned their adequacy, fairness, and clarity following a high-profile sexual assault case over an incident in a Kings Cross alleyway.
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NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman referred the laws to the Law Reform Commission after saying there was a “systemic problem” with sexual assault reporting and convictions in the state.

“There is a reluctance by complainants to come forward. They’ve already been traumatised once, and they have to go through this re-traumatisation yet again,” Mr Speakman told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

His announcement comes less than 24 hours after Saxon Mullins spoke to the ABC about her ordeal as an 18-year-old virgin when she says she was anally raped by 21-year-old Luke Lazarus in an alleyway behind a nightclub in 2013.

Attorney General Mark Speakman speaks during a media conference concerning the law of consent in sexual assault proceedings outside the Supreme Court in Sydney. Photo: AAP Image/David Moir

“He pulled me back and said something … he said, ‘put your f**king hands on the wall’. And so I did,” she told Four Corners on Monday.

Over the past five years, Ms Mullins, now 23, endured two trials and two appeals with Mr Lazarus spending 11 months in jail after being convicted by a jury.

In the second trial, a judge found Mr Lazarus had no reasonable basis for believing Ms Mullins had not consented, but that Ms Mullins – in her own mind – had not consented.

Mr Speakman said Ms Mullins’ story raised questions about whether the law was adequate, clear and fair.

“(It’s) a concern that someone who has not consented can go through four court cases and not get a final resolution for the complaint,” he said.

“We know there is a systemic problem with sexual assault reporting and convictions in our law.”

In the review, which could take about a year, Mr Speakman wants the commission to look to other states, such as Tasmania, which has some of the toughest sexual consent laws in the country.

NSW Minister for Sexual Assault Prevention Pru Goward commended Ms Mullins for her bravery in sharing her story, saying sometimes women in these situations are too afraid to say “no”.

But it doesn’t mean consent has been agreed to, Ms Goward said.

“You must explicitly ask for permission to have sex and if it’s not an enthusiastic ‘yes’ then it’s a ‘no’,” Ms Goward said alongside Mr Speakman.

“It is not enough to assume that because your victim did not say ‘no’ that she has, in fact, said ‘yes’.”

Ms Goward is calling for discussions in schools about what consent means and the importance of explicit conversations.

Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqui welcomed the law review and insisted consent must be redefined as active, positive and voluntary.

“Sexual violence persists in our society and we must do everything we can to change this, leading with changing our laws coupled with education and awareness around positive and active consent in the community and within the justice system,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

NY attorney general denies physical abuse

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned after allegations of physical abuse by four women were reported in an article in the New Yorker magazine.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo called for Schneiderman’s resignation within hours of the article’s publication.

“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” Schneiderman said in a statement on Monday.

“While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”

In the article published late on Monday, the New Yorker reported that four women who said they had had romantic relationships or encounters with Schneiderman said they had been subjected to nonconsensual physical violence.

Reuters has not independently confirmed the accusations.

“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” Schneiderman said in a statement issued by Stu Loeser & Co before he announced his resignation.

“I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”

In his statement late on Monday, Cuomo said he would ask a New York district attorney to investigate the accusations against Schneiderman, who is the state’s highest law enforcement official.

“My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as Attorney General, and for the good of the office, he should resign,” Cuomo said in his statement.

Schneiderman announced his resignation a little more than an hour after Cuomo issued his statement.

The New Yorker reported that two of the women who spoke to the magazine “alleged that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent.”

The two women who were named in the article both called the abuse by Schneiderman “assault,” the magazine reported. One of the women said Schneiderman slapped her across the face after she rejected his advances and that when she told him she wanted to leave, he said, “A lot of women like it. They don’t always think they like it, but then they do, and they ask for more,” according to the article.

Schneiderman has been a high-profile proponent of the #MeToo movement.

Avoid the flu this season – get vacinated

At Risk: The flu vaccination is very important for protecting people at high risk of serious flu complications.
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ADVERTISING FEATUREWith winter and the colder weather fast approaching, so too is flu season, and after last year’s record flu season it is time to start thinking about prevention.

Flu season typicallypeaks around July to September and everyone is vulnerable,however, certain groups are at particular risk including young children, the elderly and those with other chronic conditions.

No one wants to get sick and there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself against influenza:

Be vaccinated.Hand washing and personal hygiene, such as trying not to touch your mouth or nose.Where possible, avoid crowds during the flu season.Even though the influenza vaccination has been proven to be the most effective protection against the flu, recent research by the Pharmacy Guild of has revealed that one in two n adults do not plan to vaccinate against the flu this year despite last year’s record flu season which saw more than 249,000 reported infections.

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“Most ns don’t realise how infectious the flu is, with 77 per cent of respondents unaware the flu virus can remain active when airborne for 45 minutes or more.”

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Fever (often high)ChillsA severe coughHeadachesMuscle aches and painsA sore throatChildren’s symptoms may also include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.How to protect yourself

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“The flu vaccine contains ‘killed’, inactivated virus particles,” sayspharmacist and owner of Pharmacy4Less Kotara, Nader Eltom.

“These train your immune system to develop protection against the virus within several weeks. These antibodies protect against infection if you are exposed to the virus.”

The vaccine does not contain a live virus, so it is impossible to catch the flu from the vaccine.

“Annual vaccination against seasonal flu can reduce your chances of getting thefluand can also reduce the severity of flu symptoms if you do catch the flu,” Nader said. “Getting the vaccination can also protect people around you who may be more vulnerable to the flu, including children and the elderly.”

Pharmacy4Less Kotara offers a quick and inexpensive flu vacination program at it’s convenient location on the corner of Park Avenue and Kullaiba Road next to the Homemaker Centre.

“The flu vaccination service is $19.99 for anyone between the ages of 18-64,”Nader said.

“You do not need an appointment and the process usually takes about 15 minutes, including a brief questionnaire and waiting time.

“You can even get the flu vaccine in store, while you are waiting for your other medications.”

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This includes Pharmacist Immunisation training endorsed by the Pharmacy Guild of , regular first aid accreditation, and annual CPR updates.Theyalso keepa range of common and specialised travel vaccinations if you’re thinking about heading overseas.

“Our qualified pharmacists can help answer any queries about vaccinations and travel health for people of all ages,” Nader said.

“Pharmacy4Less Kotara also keeps a range of dose administration aids, travel products and supplements to help keep you well while you are away.”

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Tas govt concerns over church redress plan

Tas Treasurer Peter Gutwein says the govt is worried about the Anglican diocese selling churches.Tasmania’s Anglican Diocese will sell dozens of historic churches to help fund millions of dollars in redress for survivors of child sexual abuse under a plan that has the state government worried about its impact on the community.
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Anglican Bishop Richard Condie has pledged to pay $8.6 million in redress and wants the state to sign up to the national scheme.

The state’s Anglican body plans to sell more than 100 properties, including 76 churches plus halls, houses and blocks of land, with about a quarter of the money earmarked for redress.

But state Treasurer Peter Gutwein says people are worried about the community impact of the plan.

He will meet with church leaders next week to clarify “a range of matters” after a number of constituents raised concerns with him.

“I want to understand on what basis the properties will be sold and how cemeteries specifically will be dealt with,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

The diocese on Monday released a preliminary list of 78 properties, including 55 churches, it plans to put up for sale.

The full list will be made public after the church’s Synod in June.

It will then be open for community consultation, with a final list decided in December.

Tasmania is yet to join NSW, Victoria and the ACT in joining the national redress scheme that stemmed from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

“We’re working through this matter and we’ll have more to say in coming weeks,” Mr Gutwein said.

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to make a positive announcement.

“Tasmania as a jurisdiction is in a different position to most jurisdictions as we’ve already run a state-based scheme.

“We need to work through those matters, as well as the national scheme at the same time.”

Folau linked with possible Reds switch

A Queensland homecoming could be on the cards for Israel Folau if he opts to continue his rugby union career in next year.
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While the NSW Waratahs are desperate to retain the off-contract Wallabies superstar, speculation has emerged about a shift to their fiercest Super Rugby rivals.

The 29-year-old has held talks with Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn regarding a possible move next year, according to News Corp .

The Reds become the latest club linked to Folau, after talk of a $1.4 million dollar deal from England’s Sale Sharks and an NRL offer from Gold Coast Titans.

But there could be something in it if his relationships with key figures at the Waratahs have become strained, despite claims to the contrary from inside the franchise.

An incredulous tweet from Folau’s wife Maria at the weekend suggested some discontent over Folau being used on the wing instead of his preferred fullback position.

Coach Daryl Gibson switched Folau to the wing earlier this season and, while he started at fullback in the narrow loss to the Blues on Saturday, he was shifted to the wing for the crucial closing stages as bench players arrived.

“OMG @NSWWaratahs why do you keep playing @IzzyFolau on the wing????,” tweeted Maria Folau.

Folau has always maintained publicly that he’s happy to play wherever asked and NSW assistant coach Chris Malone insisted on Monday that remained the case, saying there had been numerous discussions about it.

Waratahs CEO Andrew Hore on Tuesday attempted to hose down departure talk, issuing a short statement.

“Israel said publicly last week that contract negotiations are still ongoing with us and Rugby ,” said Hore.

“As far as we are aware, reports of a move to another Super Rugby franchise is purely speculation.

“We have said before what value he brings to our team, and that has not changed.”

There’s no doubt Folau would be a huge asset for the Reds, who won’t comment on transfer speculation.

Aidan Toua has been serviceable at fullback for them this season – replacing the banished Karmichael Hunt – but Folau would be a major step up and add an extra dimension to the team’s struggling attack.

Folau grew up in Logan, a short drive south of Brisbane, and previously played for Brisbane in the NRL and for the Queensland State of Origin team.

However, the Reds would need to find a way to offload Hunt, Quade Cooper and Nick Frisby to make a move for Folau financially workable.

All three are unwanted by Thorn but are contracted to the club until the end of 2019.

Hunt is seemingly unwilling to risk injury by playing in Brisbane club rugby and appears to be biding his time until a suitable offer from Europe arrives, with no chance he will return to the Reds fold after his second drug indiscretion.

Cooper is also keen to work his way back into Thorn’s good books and has, according to The n, knocked back offers to play out the season with the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels, while Frisby is on loan to French club Bordeaux for this season.