QLD measures to strengthen criminal child sexual offence laws now in effect

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers

Leading abuse law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers
has welcomed new criminal offence provisions that have come into effect today
in Queensland that will help to bolster protections for children against
institutionalised sexual abuse.

Maurice Blackburn Queensland head of Abuse
Law Jed McNamara said a number of provisions had today come into effect to the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform)
and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 including importantly the
mandatory reporting of abuse, including within the confessional, and the
introduction of an offence for failing to protect children against
institutional abuse.
“These provisions today are an important
step in making sure that the protection of children and the prompt reporting of
any allegations of abuse are made a priority across all Queensland
institutions, with criminal offences to apply for failure to do so,” Mr
McNamara said.
“The new failure to report offence carries
with it a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment for any instances of
failing to report abuse, and a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment for
any instances of failing to protect a child from abuse.
“This is something which we believe will
send a strong message to institutions that they must be transparent in calling
out child sexual abuse at every level; and to act promptly in implementing
measures to safeguard children, and to report instances of or suspected
instances of child abuse.
“The Catholic Church in particular has
continued to resist such measures which is deeply disappointing. I have acted
for clients who were abused repeatedly within the Church where it is clear that
such abuse may not have occurred had mandatory reporting provisions – including
within the confessional – been in effect.
“With ‘failure to report’ now a criminal
offence in Queensland it remains our hope that child sexual abuse can be
prevented in future, and that the protection of children within institutions will
forever be a priority,” he said.
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