QLD measures to strengthen criminal child sexual offence laws now in effect
5 July 2021
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.