Page 2235 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005

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are sexual predators who target vulnerable adults, including women with a disability and older women.

International and Australian research suggests that the incidence of sexual assault against people with an intellectual disability is at least four times higher than in the general population. Some researchers suggest that sexual assault against people with a disability is so prevalent that the majority of people with a disability will experience some form of sexual assault or abuse in their lifetime. Older women are also more vulnerable to sexual crime. Other jurisdictions, such as Victoria, have included in the register offenders committing sexual crimes against adults.

Overseas, the United Kingdom and some states in the US have introduced vulnerable adult legislation which restricts the employment of people who are considered to be at risk of offending in situations where they have access to vulnerable people. Expanding the register to include adult sex crimes in the ACT could be a first step toward better protecting vulnerable adults. For this reason, I would like to see research and consultation on the pros and cons of expanding the register over the 12 months.

The abuse of children is a very emotive issue, and it is right that the community is concerned about this issue because the people who are involved are powerless to affect the context in which the crimes occur. It is also important that people who are convicted of offences against children are monitored by authorities in an effort to reduce the chance of their reoffending. This bill contributes to that in a small way, but it does not address the issue of risk assessment and intervention and it does not provide a basis for a holistic approach to sexual crime prevention. I believe there is more we can do to make the register an effective tool in a broader approach to crime prevention.

I urge the government to reconsider the three recommendations I have outlined today. Further, I would like the government to report on the effectiveness of this bill in reducing sex offences against children. I foreshadow that we may introduce some amendments in the future if the government does not.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (12.05): Mr Speaker, this bill provides for the establishment of a child sex offender register, prevents registered sex offenders from working in child-related employment and creates a new form of sentencing order known as a child sex offender registration order. This order, which is concurrent with a sentencing order, may be made if the court is satisfied that an offender poses a risk to the sexual safety of one or more people or of the community.

The Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, in Scrutiny Report 10, raised for the Assembly the question of whether this bill unduly trespasses upon rights and liberties and made reference to a number of fundamental human rights engaged by the legislation. The impetus for the legislation stems from the obligation to ensure, as far as possible, the safety and protection of children from sexual assault and violence.

The Human Rights Act of 2004 recognises that children are entitled to special protection because of their status as children. The obligation to protect children from violence is also underlined in the provisions of numerous international human rights instruments,

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