The Headlines: The Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann Retrial Won’t Come to Pass

Warning: This article deals with an account of rape, sexual assault, and the topic of targeted violence against LGBTQIA+ individuals. It may be triggering for survivors of abuse and for some readers.

G’day pals, welcome to another edition of The Headlines. Today, two of the stories we’re covering are rather heavy, so let’s leave the bants at the door. Here are some of the biggest pieces of news that are being discussed this Friday. 

Bruce Lehrmann’s Charges Have Been Dropped

Brittany Higgins has alleged that on March 23, 2019, Bruce Lehrmann raped her at Parliament House. This was during a time when these two individuals worked for the Federal branch of the Liberal Party. 

On October 4, 2022, a trial regarding this matter kicked off. However, Canberra’s Chief Justice, Lucy McCallum, cancelled this case and dismissed the jury. This is because McCallum learnt that one of the jurors had brought unauthorised research documents to the court. 

A retrial for Higgins and Lehrmann was scheduled for February 20, 2022. But as of 10:00am today, this case has been dropped. The ACT’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, made the announcement, saying that a retrial would be detrimental to Higgins’ health. 

I’ve recently received two compelling pieces of evidence from two independent medical experts. The ongoing trauma association associated with this prosecution presents a significant and unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant,” said Drumgold.

The evidence makes it clear that this is not limited to the harm of giving evidence in a witness box, rather applies whether or not the complainant is required to enter a witness box during a retrial.

Drumgold also said, “Whilst the pursuit of justice is essential for both my office and for the community in general, the safety of a complainant in a sexual assault matter must be paramount. In light of the compelling independent medical opinion and balancing all factors, I’ve made the difficult decision that it is no longer in the public interest to pursue a prosecution.

Gay Conversion Therapy Will Be Banned in Western Australia

The Esther Foundation is a disgraced and dismantled institution that allegedly tried to make LGBTIQA+ people straight and abused them. Multiple attendees have come forward to claim that they were physically and sexually abused by this organisation.

“What I experienced was being held down by groups of people and them commanding spirits to leave my body,” said former resident, Gabriel Osborne.

A Western Australian parliamentary inquiry into this matter has been conducted. This inquiry recommended that the act of gay conversion therapy be banned throughout the state. Rightfully, the state government will move forward with this recommendation. 

“This Government has a strong record in supporting LGBTIQA+ people in WA and is opposed to attempts to forcibly change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” said the Premier, Mark McGowan.

“Not only are conversion and suppression practices ineffective, but they undermine the fundamental value of personal dignity and have long-term negative impacts on the health and mental health of LGBTQIA+ people in our community.”

The state’s Attorney-General, John Quigley, wants the legislation that’ll ban gay conversion therapy to be passed next year. 

Quigley said, “Conversion therapy remains a problem in some Australian religious communities. Evidence from survivors and advocacy organisations has demonstrated ongoing harm and trauma caused by these practices.”

Related: The WA Government Gave a Pay Rise and Cash Bonus These Workers, But Was It Enough?

Related: ‘There’s a Level of Insensitivity’ — How the Trans Swimming Ban Impacts the LGBTQIA+ Community

This Charity Will Try a Wholesome Guinness World Record

In some lighthearted news, a Gold Coast charity, named Kids in Care, is attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the longest line of wrapped presents.

On December 3, this record will be attempted. Afterwards, all of the wrapped presents will be provided to kids in residential care across South East Queensland on Christmas.

“I looked on Guinness, and there was no official record for a line of gift-wrapped presents,” said Kids in Care’s Director, Jane Padden.

If you’re keen to help this organisation, feel free to donate here.

If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) the National Sexual Assault, domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service.

If this article brings up any issues for you or anyone you know, or you have experienced targeted violence, please contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.

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