Repeat child sexual abusers will face possible life sentences as NSW overhauls pedophile punishment laws, but Premier Gladys Berejiklian has avoided introducing state laws to break the seal of confession. Source: ABC News.
Ms Berejiklian and Attorney-General Mark Speakman yesterday announced a suite of changes in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse final report released late last year.
“We are tightening the laws, we’re making sure NSW is not leaving any stone unturned in the relation to the protection of children,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“For persistent offenders that will mean a life sentence in jail, if you are a persistent offender of children, you will spend the rest of your life in jail.”
The laws will be introduced into NSW Parliament in the next few months.
“No-one can be unmoved by the horrific circumstances that have been revealed by the royal commission,” Mr Speakman said.
“[The new laws are] about bringing to justice and punishing those who have committed the most unspeakable crimes.”
One of the major recommendations made by the royal commission was that the sanctity of the religious confessional should be pushed aside, requiring religious ministers to report any child sexual abuse revealed to them.
Divisions have emerged about whether there should be legal intervention in the religious practice.
NSW did not announce any new legislation to obliterate the practice which allowed some church clergy to avoid prosecution for child sexual offences.
Instead, the Premier said the seal of the confessional should be addressed at a national level via the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) process.
“Our response to that recommendation is to take it through the COAG process, we believe that is the best way to deal with it,” she said.
“They’re complex issues that need to be balanced with what people believe to be religious freedoms.”
Ms Berejiklian would not be drawn on what her government would be recommending to COAG should done about squashing the seal of the confessional.
NSW govt ‘passing buck’ on child sex laws (Yahoo7 News)
New life sentence for ‘persistent child abuse’ in NSW (The Australian)
Maximum life sentence for 'persistent' child sex abusers (SkyNews Australia)