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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 November 2018) . . Page.. 4874 ..


act on what they tell us and change our legal, governmental and administrative systems for the better. The Greens are happy to support this bill.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events, Minister for Building Quality Improvement, Minister for Business and Regulatory Services and Minister for Seniors and Veterans) (4.30), in reply: I start by thanking Mr Hanson, on behalf of the Canberra Liberals, and Ms Le Couteur, on behalf of the Greens, for their contribution to this debate and their support for this bill. It is important for us to remain resolved, both as a government and as an Assembly, to follow through on the recommendations that have arisen from the royal commission.

The Royal Commission Criminal Justice Legislation Amendment Bill represents the first dedicated ACT bill to implement the recommendations made in the final criminal justice report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Through the work of the royal commission, Australia has learned about the multiple and persistent failings of institutions to keep children safe, the cultures of secrecy and cover-up, and the devastating effects that child sexual abuse can have on an individual’s life. I have spoken before in this place about the importance of the royal commission and emphasised the need for concrete action following the national apology. This bill is one more step in the ACT taking action to protect people from repeating the failures highlighted by the royal commission.

The bill contains changes to ensure that, in holding people criminally responsible for their individual crimes against children, the court process takes account of the latest evidence on how perpetrators commit the crime and on how survivors recount their trauma. It is an acknowledgement of our responsibility, and it represents our ongoing commitment to taking action.

One important amendment is the new offence for people in authority in an institution failing to protect against the risk of child sexual abuse. The offence criminalises a person in authority in an institution moving alleged perpetrators to different positions within that or other institutions if there is a substantial risk of further abuse. The offence will work to help prevent the unacceptable failures we saw through the royal commission report of people in authority moving known abusers to different roles in the same institution and allowing them to continue to perpetrate abuse on new children in that institution.

The royal commission took evidence from both people in authority at institutions and children who suffered horrendous abuse that many institutions engaged in practices of concealing abuse and moving abusers to protect institutions rather than children. For example, a headmaster told a teacher, prior to allowing him to perform relief duties, “I hope you are careful with your touching habits with boys.” Based on this and countless other case studies demonstrating a knowledge of abuse, the royal commission considered that a failure to protect offence was necessary to give appropriate emphasis to the obligation of those in responsible positions in institutions to protect children in their care from sexual abuse. This offence will work to shift the balance so that institutions are diligent in protecting children, not abusers.


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