Laws that will help protect Tasmania’s children and hold offenders to account have progressed, with the Criminal Code and Related Legislation Amendment (Child Abuse) Bill 2018 today passing the House of Assembly.
This Bill makes a number of amendments in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which includes making members of religious ministry, and members of the Tasmanian Parliament mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect.
Under this significant reform, members of religious ministry will not be able to rely on the confessional privilege to refuse to disclose information.
The Bill also introduces a new crime of ‘failing to report the abuse of a child’ in response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, putting the safety of children front and centre.
Importantly, this new crime includes a range of safeguards to avoid injustice and also excludes members of religious ministry from relying on the confessional privilege for failing to report abuse.
Other important reforms progressed by this Bill include:
- the broadening of Tasmania’s ‘grooming offence’ to target predators who seek to exploit the trust of others in order to gain access to children; and
- strengthening the use of pre-recording audio-visual evidence for sexual offences to ensure that victims, where possible, are not required to give evidence twice and may have their evidence taken early in the process to reduce the risk of re-traumatisation.
This landmark Bill delivers on the Hodgman Majority Liberal Government’s commitment to implement a number of recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
I again wish to acknowledge the significant courage of people affected by institutional child sexual abuse who shared their personal stories to the Royal Commission.
This Government remains committed to better protecting our children, and last year was proud to commit $70 million towards the National Redress Scheme.