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Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017

The submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee’s (the Committee) inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill was prepared by the Law Council. 

The Bill seeks to better protect the community from the dangers of child sexual abuse by addressing perceived inadequacies in the criminal justice system that result in outcomes that insufficiently punish, deter or rehabilitate offenders. The Bill targets all aspects of the child sex offender cycle from the commission of an offence, to bail, sentencing and post-imprisonment.

The Law Council recognises that sexual offences against children are serious and sex offenders ought to receive appropriate sentences that reflect the severity of the conduct for the protection of the community.

Due to the timeframe for response for the inquiry, the Law Council has not been able to undertake as comprehensive assessment of the Bill as it would have liked. Some of the views expressed in this submission are therefore preliminary only.

However, the Law Council is concerned that the Bill has been introduced in the absence of consideration as to how the measures may fit with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s (Royal Commission) Criminal Justice Report1 and prior to the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report. The Royal Commission’s reports and inquiry are not referred to in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill and hence it is unclear the extent to which the measures will be consistent with the findings of the Royal Commission.

Similarly, the Law Council is concerned that the Bill has been introduced prior to the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (ALRC) inquiry into Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. If enacted, the Bill has the potential to impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates, particularly given the mandatory minimum penalties and presumption against bail.

The Bill should not be enacted prior to consideration of the Australian Government and Parliament of these reports.

You can read the full submission below.

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