Australian citizens could soon be able to access to a national sex offenders’ registry that would allow them to look up the addresses of registered child sex offenders after they have been released from prison.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced his plans for a national paedophile database on Wednesday, stating that a similar register has been used effectively in the US for more than two decades.
“It would have a strong deterrent effect on offenders and ensure that parents are not in the dark about whether a registered sex offender has access to their children,” Dutton said.
“The abuse and exploitation of children is a global epidemic that is becoming more prevalent, more organised and more extreme. Thwarting that exploitation is a key priority for me as Minister for Home Affairs. I have always fought for the protection of children and this is a battle that we must win.”
The Coalition has already begun consultations with state and territory governments on the proposal of the National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders, which would be the first of its kind in Australia.
Some states and territories already publicly release information about child sex offenders in specific circumstances. However, Dutton argued that a consistent approach nationwide nationally would help to protect communities and ensure offenders cannot evade public scrutiny.
He added: “It will send a clear message that Australia will not tolerate individuals preying on the most vulnerable members of the community – our children.
“I look forward to working with state and territory government and key non‑government stakeholders on this important initiative.”
Reports of child sexual abuse and exploitation in Australia continue to rise – reports to the Australian Federal Police soared by 77 per cent in 2018 over 2017.
Non-government stakeholders are also expected to take part in the consultations, including the Law Council of Australia, National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, Carly Ryan Foundation, Bravehearts and the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation among others.
Several pollies spoke out in support of Dutton’s announcement on Wednesday, including Senator Derryn Hinch who thanked the Home Affairs Minister and said he can now “die happy”.
Now I can die happy. Peter Dutton has announced government support for my national public register of convicted paedophiles. It’s why I formed the Justice Party. Why I got into politics. We’ve been working on this in Canberra for two years.Dutton kept his word. Thank you.
— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) January 8, 2019
He tweeted: “Now I can die happy. Peter Dutton has announced government support for my national public register of convicted paedophiles. It’s why I formed the Justice Party. Why I got into politics. We’ve been working on this in Canberra for two years. Dutton kept his word. Thank you.”
However, Bravehearts Founder Hetty Johnston spoke out, slamming the move as nothing more than a political stunt.
“I understand totally why the government is doing this and I understand 100% why the public might want to support it,” Johnson said in a statement. “But when you look at the facts it is clear that this solution simply does not work to protect children. It makes the community feel better but it does not protect our children.
“If government was serious about protecting our kids and if they seriously wanted to deal with these very real dangers they would support our calls for a Royal Commission into the Family Law System and they would toughen up laws that currently release dangerous sex offenders back into our communities.
“The bottom line is that all dangerous and repeat sex offenders should not be on a register, they should be in jail. No offender should be released until the risk they pose is of a level that can be managed in the community. A register will not keep children safe.”