Toughen rules against child abuse to begin next year

By Juliano Oliveira

The state laws against child sexual abuse offenders are set to become more severe in the next year as the Queensland Government introduced a reforming bill in the parliament.

A note disclosed by the government affirms that the administration is “pursuing landmark reforms in State Parliament to provide fairer and more effective responses to victims of child sexual abuse”.

“This legislation creates new offences for failing to report and failing to protect a child from institutional child sexual abuse, an extension of the offence of grooming, and reforms to sentencing, evidence law and jury directions,” said the attorney-general and minister for justice, Yvette D’Ath.

Other changes are also encompassed in the bill, such as ensuring that the new failure to report offence applies to information gained during, or in connection with, a religious confession. Another key point desired by the government is to facilitate increased admissibility of evidence of other allegations or convictions of child sexual abuse against the accused persons.

Mrs D’Ath said the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019 also criminalises the possession, supply and production of child abuse objects. “The sickening offence of child sexual abuse damages individuals and families, and has a ripple effect throughout communities,” she said.

As a result of these changes, the state administration expects to ensure that offenders are sentenced in keeping with contemporary sentencing standards. “We’re committed to seeking justice for the victims of child sexual abuse and holding perpetrators to account.”

The bill is the product of extensive consultation and consideration, including a public consultation process on a draft of the Bill earlier this year. This consultation process elicited over 50 submissions from various organisations, stakeholders and individuals.