'I am that Girl': How the Saxon Mullins Case Disrupted Consent Laws in New South Wales

Bite-Sized Books
Publication Type:
Sex and Journalism: Critical, Global Perspectives, 2019, pp. 29 - 36
Issue Date:
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As a survivor of sexual assault, Saxon Mullins’ anonymity is by law, set in stone. So it was a riveting moment on May 6, 2018 to wake up in Australia to her face and her voice, telling her story in her own words. Excerpts from a May 7 Four Corners programme flew around the country on social media the day before. On Facebook and Twitter, the Fairfax media company and the ABC ensured a prime audience for the ABC flagship current affairs programme, 24 hours before it went to air. The ABC News social media also carried excerpts, further broadening the reach and impact of her story. Almost five years prior to the day, Mullins was raped in an alley behind a Kings Cross Sydney nightclub, by the owner’s son. He was found guilty by a jury, and served 11 months before his appeal was heard. He was then acquitted by a judge, that judge agreeing that Mullins did not give consent – but saliently, she believed the attacker did not know that. This paper aims to analyse the Four Corners televised story of the Mullins’ rape case, as well as the ABC’s online publication coverage the day before, tracking its impact by analysing further media coverage the next day. It was the day after the Four Corners screening that the legal fall-out from the full story was realised: based on the programme content, NSW Attorney General announced a review of the state’s sexual consent laws stating Mullins has started: "… an important conversation on the nature of consent".
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