I am very pleased to rise to speak in support of the Crimes Legislation
Amendment (Food and Drink Spiking) Bill 2008.
It is a very important piece of legislation, and it further
demonstrates this government’s commitment to protecting Victorians, particularly
those who are potentially in vulnerable situations, in circumstances where
people are out supposedly attempting to enjoy themselves in an environment where
people around them may want to perpetrate harm on innocent bystanders enjoying
the day or the evening.
At present there are laws in place against food and drink
spiking in this state. However, this amendment addresses a gap identified in the
Model Criminal Law Officers’ Code, the MCLOC, in its final report on drink and
food spiking. The gap I referred to that was contained in the report is the lack
of an offence for spiking a person’s food or drink with the intent of committing
an indecent act, but either not playing out this intent for any reason or the food or drink
not being consumed by the would-be victim.
The legal purpose of the bill is twofold. Firstly, as previous
speakers have outlined, it amends the Crimes Act 1958 to extend the offence of
administering a drug with the intention of rendering a person incapable of
providing resistance to an act of sexual penetration to also apply to an
indecent act. The second aspect is to amend the Summary Offences Act 1966 to
create a new food and drink-spiking offence.
The social purpose of the bill is about protecting Victorians
and their right to feel safe while enjoying food and drink with friends, with
family or on their own. In particular I believe this bill is about protecting
National research conducted by the Australian Institute of
Criminology indicates that four out of five drink-spiking victims are female and
about half are under the age of 24. A disturbing one-third experienced a sexual
assault of some type. Food and drink spiking is an insidious act — a
dysfunctional social behaviour that has increased significantly over time.
When I was younger and attended parties as a teenager and in my
early adult life, this sort of behaviour was certainly not common at all. It is
clear from my experience of talking with social workers, young women throughout
western Victoria and workers at centres against sexual assault that this has
been an increasing trend in recent times. A lot of it is not only to do with
heavy alcohol consumption, as we have seen reported in the newspapers, but it
also goes to the very heart of what we have talked about in legislation before
this house last year: the lack of respect that unfortunately seems to be part
and parcel of the relationship between genders.
This is incredibly unfortunate and particularly unfortunate
when it happens between young men and young women who have not even had the
opportunity to enter into mature, full, loving and vibrant relationships,
meaning that their first experience with the opposite sex is often an awful one.
Drink and food spiking has become part and parcel of a typical
Friday and Saturday night. It is common not only in Melbourne’s central business
district but also in Geelong, Warrnambool and smaller towns throughout Victoria.
The Australian Institute of Criminology has estimated that between July 2002 and
June 2003 it suspected that the number of incidences of drink spiking were
between 3000 and 4000. However, it has been suggested by the institute that this
figure is definitely an underestimation due to the fact that we know many
instances go unreported for a variety of reasons. For example, victims may not
remember the incident well enough, and they may also believe there is not enough
evidence for the police to follow up the incident.
Victims often feel embarrassed and that somehow they might not
have behaved in a way to protect themselves well enough against what happened to
I believe the passing of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Food
and Drink Spiking) Bill 2008 will provide encouragement for people to come
forward and report drink and food spiking, particularly if the media continues
to provide good and accurate coverage of this type of proactive legislation that
the government is introducing. If we talk about it more, then people will think
that it is not only common but also it can happen to them. If we can get that
conversation going more and more among young boys and girls, then we are at
least teaching them to start protecting themselves and start thinking about the
issues that surround the problem. By creating a heightened sense of awareness of
this offence I believe it will drive down and create a lower incidence of what I
consider to be an appalling set of social behaviours.
Hopefully it will make young people a little more circumspect
about their surroundings when they go out, pay attention to what their
interactions are with other individuals in their company, and think not once,
not twice but three times when they ingest food and drink.
This amendment is important because it amends the current laws
to include instances where someone spikes another person’s drink with the intent
of causing harm but does not get the chance to carry out that intent. This
amendment creates a punishable offence of intending to spike a person’s drink or
food to carry out an indecent act, even if the indecent act is not carried out
or the food or drink is not consumed. It makes it perfectly clear that food and
drink spiking is a totally unacceptable practice, regardless of whether the drug
is ingested or not. The amendment creates full protection under the law for all
Victorians in relation to having food or drink they are consuming spiked with a
I am pleased to speak on this matter and be part of a
government that is committed to protecting all Victorians, particularly young
Victorians. I also concur with the views that school and peer education programs
in this area need to be continued and indeed ramped up. I was heartened by the
Premier’s comments in his statement of intent this afternoon, because the
sentiments he explored today are certainly part and parcel of what I consider to
be a major reform agenda this government will be carrying forward, particularly
when it comes to personal and interpersonal relationships among younger Victorians. I
commend the bill to the house.