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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Toughest crack down on paedophiles in a generation
Media release

The Coalition Government today announced tough new laws that represent the greatest crack down on paedophiles in a generation.

Under the new laws, child sex offenders will spend longer in jail, be less likely to be granted bail and parole, face mandatory minimum sentences and be closely supervised following their release.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill, which will be introduced to Parliament this week, targets all aspects of the child sex offender cycle by strengthening measures at the time of charging, bail, sentencing and upon release.

New offences and increased penalties will combat the growing role that technology plays in enabling the abuse of children online through ‘grooming’ and live streamed child sexual abuse, while also targeting the administrators and providers of services, that facilitate child abuse material. Penalties will also be increased for internet companies that do not report child abuse material to police.

Importantly, these reforms will ensure that sentences reflect the heinous nature of these crimes, by introducing mandatory minimum sentences for the worst and repeat offenders, additional aggravating factors and a presumption in favour of cumulative sentencing.

The Bill also provides for a presumption of imprisonment, rather than suspended sentences, and a presumption against bail for the worst offenders.

Since 2012, only 58.7 per cent of convicted Commonwealth child sex offenders received a term of imprisonment. For those who did, the most common period of actual imprisonment was just six months.

This represents a staggering number of offenders who are released into the community often without any form of monitoring, posing an unacceptable risk to children everywhere.

The Bill prevents judges from using an offender’s standing in the community to discount their sentence if it was used to assist in the commission the offence. It will also make it compulsory for the courts to have regard to the objective of rehabilitating offenders, including setting appropriate treatment and supervision conditions.

The reforms also seek to minimise the impact of the court process on vulnerable witnesses such as children, including through cross examination, which can often be traumatic and confronting.

These reforms are the most significant and largest reforms to the legal framework concerning child sex offenders since the establishment of the Criminal Code in 1995.

Importantly, this Bill complements measures passed by the Coalition Government in June this year, to stop child sex offenders from travelling overseas to sexually abuse children. It also includes the introduction of Carly’s law to target online predators preparing or planning to cause harm to, procure or engage in sexual activity with a child.

At the conclusion of Child Protection Week, these sweeping reforms send a strong message to child sex offenders that their abhorrent crimes will not be tolerated, and I look forward to Parliament passing these measures as soon as possible.


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