The Tasmanian Liberal Government has introduced a bill to Parliament that will make it mandatory for people in religious ministry to report child abuse or face criminal charges. Source: The Examiner.
The bill will also allow for the use of more pre-recorded testimony in court for victims of child sexual abuse, ensure victims will not have to give evidence twice at a trial, when it is possible, and for their evidence to be taken earlier to avoid the risk of retraumatisation.
Attorney-General Elise Archer said the legislation would “lift the veil of the confessional for the purposes of reporting child sexual abuse.”
“The legislation makes it clear that all members of the community must do everything in their power to protect children and prevent child abuse from occurring,” she said.
“There is no excuse for failure to report the horrific abuse of children, least of all for institutions who have been named in the royal commission as failing to prevent child abuse in the past.”
The extension of mandatory reporting of child abuse to religious ministries has the support of Labor, the Greens and the Anglican Church – but not the Catholic Church.
Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous last month said it would not lead to uncovering abuse.
“By removing the seal, we lose the rare opportunity to point an offender or victim in the direction of the authorities and other assistance,” he said.
“Any perpetrator who was minded to confess would almost certainly do so anonymously, so no mandatory reporting would be possible.”