The Australian Government has commenced national consultations on a proposal to establish a National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders.
A National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders would be the first of its kind in Australia and would make certain information about child sex offenders available on a publicly accessible website.
Consultations have begun with state and territory governments and law enforcement agencies and will also involve non-government stakeholders.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said a register would be an important measure to improve protections for families and children.
“It would have a strong deterrent effect on offenders and ensure that parents are not in the dark about whether a registered sex offender has access to their children,” he said.
“The abuse and exploitation of children is a global epidemic that is becoming more prevalent, more organised and more extreme.
“Thwarting that exploitation is a key priority for me as Minister for Home Affairs. I have always fought for the protection of children and this is a battle that we must win.”
Some states and territories already publicly release information about child sex offenders in specific circumstances. However, a nationally consistent approach would afford nationwide community protection and ensure offenders cannot evade public scrutiny.
Reports of child sexual abuse and exploitation in Australia continue to rise – reports to the Australian Federal Police soared by 77 per cent in 2018 over 2017.
Mr Dutton said the Morrison Government was already making substantial efforts to protect children – including establishing the Australian Centre to Combat Child Exploitation – and a national public register of sex offenders would complement and enhance those efforts.
“It will send a clear message that Australia will not tolerate individuals preying on the most vulnerable members of the community – our children.
“I look forward to working with state and territory government and key non‑government stakeholders on this important initiative,” Mr Dutton said.
Non-government stakeholders are expected to include the Law Council of Australia, National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, Carly Ryan Foundation, Bravehearts, the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation and other interested child protection and advocacy groups.