Sentencing Sexual Offences

The Council has analysed possible changes in how sexual offences have been sentenced in Victoria in the last 10 years.

Reforms in recent years have been specifically directed at sentencing practices for sexual offences:

  • On 20 March 2017, certain sexual offences were classified as Category 1 offences. For Category 1 offences, courts must impose a term of imprisonment or other custodial sentence, except in a very narrow set of circumstances where special reasons exist.
  • On 11 October 2017, the High Court held that Victorian courts had been giving too much weight to current sentencing practices, particularly when sentencing sexual offences against children. Since then, Victorian courts have been required to immediately, rather than incrementally, increase sentences where an uplift in sentencing practices is required.
  • On 1 February 2018, certain sexual offences were classified as standard sentence offences. Victorian courts must take the standard sentence into account when sentencing such offences committed after this date.
Image with three horizontal bars. The bottom bar balloon reads 'Category 1 and 2 offences' and below that 'Offences sentenced after March 2017'. The middle bar balloon reads 'Dalgliesh' (i.e. the case) and below that 'Offences sentenced after October 2017'. The top bar balloon reads 'Standard sentences' and below that 'Offences committed after February 2018'. The left of the bars reads 'January 2010' and the right of the bars reads 'December 2019', the timeframe for the study.


Prior to the Council’s analysis, no published research had looked into the potential effect of these reforms on sentencing of sexual offences in Victoria.

In June 2021, the Council released: