Ministers of religion in Western Australia are now legally required to report child sexual abuse, including information from confessions. Source: AAP.
Failure to make a mandatory report is now an offence with a maximum penalty of $6000.
A minister of religion will not be excused from criminal responsibility even if their belief that there has been child abuse is based on information disclosed during a religious confession.
Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said the McGowan Government was “sending a clear message that nobody is above the law, including ministers of religion”.
The new laws deliver on recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The changes also extend mandatory reporting requirements to early childhood, out-of-home care and youth justice workers, as well as registered psychologists and school counsellors.
The mandatory reporting laws are being implemented through a staggered approach so the groups receive support to undertake their new responsibilities.
Ministers of religion are the first group to come into effect, with other groups to be included in the new provisions in the next three years.
WA religious ministers must report abuse By Tim Dornin, AAP via Canberra Times)