Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

When will a limited public disclosure scheme for registered sex offender be trailed in Victoria?

My adjournment debate is for the Minister for Police, and the action that I seek is for the minister to refer to the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) an inquiry into the circumstances in which a limited public disclosure scheme for registered sex offender information could be trialled in Victoria. This was a recommendation of the Legal and Social Issues Committee’s inquiry into management of child sex offender information, which I established. The government only supported the recommendation in principle, which in layman’s terms means we probably will not be doing anything about it. The government’s response to this recommendation was: The Act already includes measures for the public disclosure of information relating to a registrable offender in limited circumstances. The Victorian public disclosure scheme was introduced in 2017, five years after Western Australia and nine years after the United Kingdom introduced their limited child sex offender disclosure schemes. Victoria does not have a limited disclosure scheme like those jurisdictions, and any suggestion that we do is entirely misleading—and it certainly is not public. The UK scheme allows members of the public to make an application to find out if a particular person in contact with children is a registered sex offender. In the media this week a federal public register of child sex offenders has again been advocated for. This would have regard to limited disclosure schemes operating in the United Kingdom and Western Australia as well as relevant federal laws and regulations. This came after an Australian Institute of Criminology report, Exploring the Role of Opportunity in Recidivist Child Sexual Offending, that concluded we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in relation to how extensive recidivist offending is. It found that even after having contact with the criminal justice system offenders still have access to children. Scott Weber, the CEO of the Police Federation of Australia was scared by the findings and called for a national child sex offender register. He said, and I quote: “It would be great if parents or guardians could go and speak to police and get the information to keep their children safe. Yes, he called for a limited disclosure scheme. But once again it seems as though the rights of convicted child sex offenders are put ahead of the victims or community safety.”

Therefore, Minister, I request again that you refer a limited disclosure scheme for child sex offenders to the VLRC to investigate further.


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