Repressed Memories: A Current Perspective

Repressed Memories: A Current Perspective

Greg Walsh OAM[1]

 

23 January 2017


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This is a strange time, Mister. No man may longer doubt the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack upon this village. There is too much evidence now to deny it. You will agree, sir?

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Reverend Hale in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible

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Introduction

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Allegations of sexual assault polarise people like no other issue. This applies equally to members of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession.

There are those who readily assume that any person against whom an allegation of sexual assault is made must be guilty. There are others who understand the fundamental importance of the presumption of innocence.

The 1980’s and 90’s heralded an enormous interest and focus in respect of issues of sexual assault. This lead to a number of legislative changes in each of the States of Australia. The essential basis for the plethora of reports and legislative changes have been that the criminal law, does not protect persons from sexual assault and that there is an overriding need to obtain greater protection for victims and to have higher conviction rates.

There is no doubting that in terms of pure politics this approach is one of enormous attraction to Governments. The perception is that there is overriding public support for being seen to be active in protecting alleged victims of sexual assault. Further, it is always good politics to be seen to be being hard in respect of criminals.

These trends have seen a major shift away from a “due-process” model to a “crime control” Criminal Justice System. The latter places particular emphasis upon an almost “therapeutic” approach in cases of this nature.

This paper, though dealing with the issue of repressed memory, nevertheless seeks to alert those who work within the Criminal Justice System of the significant danger that a Child Sexual Abuse Industry is very much in operation within Australia and that there needs to be a critical appraisal of whether the momentum has swung too far. The paper will seek to address such issues that may arise involving the trial of persons charged with Sexual Assault. This material will hopefully be of assistance in gaining a greater understanding of human memory and the way in which these types of cases can arise and are investigated.

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About the author

Matthew Walsh administrator