PA/The Carly Ryan Foundation
Child sex offenders could face life behind bars under a new legislation set to be introduced in Australian federal parliament next week.
It’s been revealed approximately one in three child sex offenders don’t spend any time in prison for their actions in Australia, but the new law would leave judges with no choice but to put paedophiles behind bars.
Under the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019, paedophiles would face mandatory jail sentences and the most serious offenders could be jailed for life. The bill would also make it harder for serious offenders to get bail, while repeat offenders will have to stay in prison for longer.
Speaking of the change in policy, Attorney-General Christian Porter said in a press release:
It simply beggars belief that 28 per cent of all offenders sentenced last year (for federal crimes) were not required to spend a single day behind bars.
And when jail terms were handed out, the average length of time that offenders spent in custody was just 18 months.
These changes will ensure that a jail term becomes the starting point for all child sex offenders, including a new life term for the worst offenders.
Last year, 28% of child sex offenders convicted of federal offences did not spend one day in jail – that has to change. That's why we're introducing mandatory jail sentences for offenders when Parliament resumes next week. The safety of our children should always be put first.
— Christian Porter (@cporterwa) September 3, 2019
While the new law is a step forward in ensuring offenders serve time, Sonya Ryan, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Carly Ryan, is calling for an even tougher crackdown.
Carly was murdered by a 50-year-old paedophile who lured her over the internet into meeting. Sonya campaigned for stronger laws to protect young people online and was involved in the passing of Carly’s Law in 2017, which gave police more power to protect children from online predators.
According to the Mail Online, she commented:
We remain concerned the mandatory minimums in this bill won’t result in the harshest of penalties, especially when a guilty plea is entered which reduces the minimum.
The legislation aims to target those who commit offences online and overseas. Under current laws, offenders face between seven and 24 years behind bars for using the internet to groom a child, having sex with a child outside Australia and sharing child exploitation material online.
Did you know 28% of child sex offenders sentenced in Australia last year did not serve one day in jail? That’s just not OK, not even close and it has to change. These offenders are the lowest of the low and we’re going to ensure they go to jail with new mandatory sentencing laws. We owe it to our kids to protect them. What’s more, the most serious offenders could be jailed for life under our new laws we’re going to introduce to Parliament next week.
Posted by Scott Morrison (ScoMo) on Monday, September 2, 2019
According to Porter’s press release, Home Minister Peter Dutton said the number of exploitation reports involving Australian children or sex offenders almost doubled to 18,000 last year, compared to the year before.
Sentences need to reflect community expectations and act as a significant deterrent to others, which is why these sorts of despicable crimes must result in significant penalties, not simply a slap on the wrist which is often the case.
The message we are sending to paedophiles is that it won’t matter how good their lawyer is, a prison cell will be waiting for them when they are convicted.
We need to be realistic about the threat and we need to lock up those people that are doing the wrong thing.
The legislation will be introduced to parliament next Wednesday.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child seeking advice and support call Childline for free on 0800 1111
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