In Queensland, the safety and well-being of children stand as a foremost priority.
The state's commitment to safeguarding children's rights and welfare is evident in its child protection laws and recent amendments to the Criminal Code Act. These amendments specifically target unlawful behaviour that ignores or conceals the sexual abuse of children.
Understanding the Laws and Changes
Failing to Report and Protect: An Overview
In recent years, the law has been strengthened to improve the protection of children from offences of a sexual nature. Previously, only certain adults had legal obligations to report suspected harm to children, including suspected sexual abuse. However, amendments to the Criminal Code extend the obligation to report to any adult. This means that all adults, without exception, have the responsibility to report sexual offences against children to the police—unless they have a reasonable excuse not to.
Failure to Protect Offence | A Closer Look
Under Section 229BB of the Criminal Code Act 1899, accountable persons associated with child service institutions (such as schools, churches, or sports clubs) bear a crucial responsibility.
They must have (and not withhold) knowledge that an alleged offender will commit a child sex offence. This means that if you are an owner, manager, employee, or volunteer at such an institution, you have a legal duty to act to protect children in your care.
The penalties for failing in this duty can be severe, with a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
To better grasp the "failure to protect" offence, it is essential to understand the criteria that must be met:
The accused must have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove risks to children.
The accused must have had knowledge of the alleged offender's intent to commit a child sex offence.
The child in question must be under the care, supervision, or control of the institution.
The child must be either under 16 years of age or a person with an impairment of the mind.
This offence underscores the critical importance of diligent oversight and protective measures within child service institutions.
Failure to Report Offence | A Closer Look
The "failure to report" offence, as defined in Section 229BC of the Act, places an obligation on all adults with information about child sexual offences to promptly disclose it to the police.
Failing to do so can lead to a maximum penalty of up to 3 years in prison.
To better grasp the "failure to report" offence, it is essential to understand the criteria that must be met:
The accused must be an adult with information concerning a child sex offence;
The information should relate to a child under 16 years of age or a person with an impairment of the mind; and
The accused must disclose the information to a police officer as soon as reasonably practicable.
What Constitutes a 'Reasonable Excuse'?
Failure to report may not be considered a crime if you have a reasonable excuse. Understanding what constitutes a "reasonable excuse" is crucial for adults who may find themselves in a situation where they have information regarding a child sex offence. A "reasonable excuse" may include:
Believing, on solid grounds, that the information had already been supplied to the authorities;
Having a genuine belief that the information had already been reported; or
Becoming aware of the sexual offence when the child becomes an adult, under the assumption that it is no longer a legal requirement to inform the police.
It is important to note that what constitutes a "reasonable excuse" can vary based on the specific circumstances of each case. When in doubt, seeking legal guidance is advised.
Seeking Professional Legal Help
Navigating the intricacies of child protection laws can be daunting. At Creevey Horrell Lawyers, we recognise the complexity of these legal matters.
Our professional and results-driven team of legal experts is here to guide you every step of the way.
We go the extra mile to secure the results you need and provide you with peace of mind as we fight for you, regardless of the case.
Contact Creevey Horrell Criminal Lawyers
Based in Brisbane, Roma, Toowoomba, and Townsville.
Visit www.chcriminallawyers.com.au/contact-us to contact us today.