Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019
The submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019 (the 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.
Sexual offences against children are serious and offenders should receive appropriate sentences that reflect the severity of the conduct for the protection of the community, particularly vulnerable children.
Following a review of the proposals contained in the Bill, the Law Council raises several concerns for the Committee’s attention, including that the:
- proposed mandatory minimum penalty measures may apply to conduct between teenagers that is not uncommon in an era of increased access to an expanding range of digital technology;
- proposed mandatory minimum penalty measures do not permit the court full discretion in cases of individuals with significant cognitive impairment or mental illness;
- range of measures in the Bill would place additional strain on the criminal justice system without a commitment of additional resources for the courts and the criminal justice system to properly fulfil the proposed new functions;
- presumption against bail in the Bill is inconsistent with the presumption of innocence and established criminal law principles;
- presumption in favour of cumulative sentences unless exceptional circumstances apply and presumption in favour of an actual sentence being served is unnecessary and may result in outcomes which are unjust;
- ability of a court to practically comply with the requirement to consider whether the sentencing or non-parole period provides sufficient time for the person to undertake rehabilitation, particularly given potential deficiencies in resourcing for rehabilitation options for offenders; and
- proposed removal of the requirement for the Attorney-General to give notice to revoke the parole order or licence for all Commonwealth crime is objectionable on procedural fairness grounds.
You can read the full submission below.