New laws to better protect children from abuse


Released 07/08/2019

From 1 September 2019 new laws for the reporting of child abuse commence. These laws are an important step in implementing the Royal Commission's recommendations as we continue working towards a safer society for children, and a stronger legal framework for survivors.

"The Royal Commission emphasised the importance of adults proactively reporting information about child sexual abuse. Children are likely to have less ability to report the abuse, or to take steps to protect themselves," Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said today.

"We also know that those who commit child sexual abuse offences may have multiple victims and may offend against particular victims over lengthy periods of time and it is our absolute priority to keep children safe."

From 1 September 2019, changes to ACT laws will mean that:

  • Adults who reasonably believe that a sexual offence has been committed against a child, must make a report to police. Failure to make a report is an offence.
  • Ministers of religion, religious leaders and members of the clergy of a church or religious denomination will be Mandated Reporters.
  • Certain information disclosed in a religious confession must be reported by religious bodies to the ACT Ombudsman under the Reportable Conduct Scheme.

"These changes achieve consistency between the treatment of the confessional seal across different reporting obligations and ensures freedom of religion is limited only to the extent necessary to protect children from harm," Minister Ramsay said.

The ACT Government is committed to taking responsibility and implementing the findings of the Royal Commission to ensure our laws protect children.

The Royal Commission's recommendations provide a framework for making our society a safer place for children and ensuring our systems respond better to victims.

"Work to implement these recommendations has so far included signing up to the Redress scheme, making improvements to sentencing laws and criminal procedures, and enacting a new offence for a person in an institution failing to protect against child sexual abuse," Minister Ramsay said.

"The changes commencing on 1 September 2019 are the latest in this series of reforms. Further work will follow, including implementing the National Child Safe Standards, and introducing a witness intermediary scheme to help victims give evidence to police and to the court."

For further information on the new laws visit: www.act.gov.au/childabuseroyalcommission

- Statement ends -

Section: Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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