Greens spokesperson for Children and Youth, and Justice, Hon Alison Xamon MLC has today welcomed the findings of the Punitive Not Protective: When the Mandatory Registration of Young People is not based on risk report, from the Standing Committee on Environment and Public Affairs.
Ms Xamon, who made a submission to the inquiry, said today’s report was timely and important – and she hoped the recommendations presented would lead to much needed reform of the Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004.
She said the Greens had long-held concerns about the impact of mandatory registration on children, particularly as there was currently no consideration given to offenders’ developmental or other issues, and there was currently no mechanism for removing a young person from the Community Protection Offender Register (the Register), leading to lifelong registration.
“Child sexual abuse is a terrible crime which has lasting impacts on victims – and the community rightly expects a strong and robust response,” Ms Xamon said.
“Yet, we know that research, most notably from the Australian Institute of Criminology, suggests young sex offenders are unlikely to become adult sex offenders, therefore a lifelong inclusion on the Register is not appropriate in every instance.”
Ms Xamon said she was pleased to see today’s report emphasise the importance of differentiating between young and adult offenders under the law.
She said she very much supported the committee’s recommendations that the Government develop therapeutic approaches within the youth justice system for rehabilitating children who display harmful sexual behaviours, and that registration should be subject to judicial discretion.
“The Act as it currently stands is unfairly applied to low risk offenders,” Ms Xamon said.
“The best interests of the community, as well as of individual children and young people, would be best served by limiting registration and reporting requirements to those young people judged to be a real threat to children.”