Page 2236 - Week 07 - Thursday, 23 June 2005

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including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In developing this bill, the government took into account the need to balance the rights and interests of all parties affected by the legislation and to ensure that any limitations of rights are strictly proportionate to the objective of the legislation.

The reporting requirements imposed on registrable offenders are not onerous and the subsequent limitation on the rights to privacy, liberty and freedom of movement from registrable offenders are both necessary and proportionate to achieve the aims of the legislation. The bill explicitly provides for a right to privacy for a registrable offender when reporting in person, clause 73, and when being photographed, clause 79. In addition, a person making a report is entitled to make a report outside the hearing of members of the public, clause 73. These safeguards provide legislative protection against arbitrary interference with the right to privacy. The bill further allows for the reporting of travel details to be made by post, fax or email. That is in clauses 48 and 9.

The Standing Committee on Legal Affairs, in Scrutiny Report 11, has sought further explanation of how the bill applies to young offenders. The government has carefully considered the application of the legislation of young offenders and sought to ensure that their treatment under the bill is proportionate for their status as young people. The commission of a registrable offence by a young offender does not automatically trigger registration as a registrable offender under clause 9.

A young offender who is conditionally released, or has a disposition without proceeding to conviction, or who is sentenced for a single offence for an act of indecency with a young person, or possessing child pornography, does not automatically become a registrable offender. Neither can a court make a child sex offender registration order in relation to an order against a young offender where the charge against a young person is proved by the Children’s Court and does not involve a custodial sentence.

Mr Speaker, the principles informing this bill were developed in collaboration with all other jurisdictions so that the ACT can participate in the national child protection offender registration scheme. Other states and the Northern Territory have introduced, or will shortly introduce, similar laws. We, as legislators, have a responsibility to protect the children in our territory to the best of our ability. We need to maintain a vigilant eye on those who have already offended sexually against children. Those who have offended sexually against children must be monitored for as long as it is considered reasonably necessary to ensure they do not reoffend, a situation that, unfortunately, arises too often with such offenders. The bill will reinforce and improve upon our current position. It is a modest step in the right direction in the campaign against sexual predators of our children.

I will now address the three issues that Dr Foskey raised. She says that she would like to see a framework around prevention. This register is part of that approach. This legislation is not the vehicle to talk about prevention. This is one piece of legislation in a suite of activities and initiatives that we have. We already have programs around addressing recidivism, and Dr Foskey indicated a couple of them. We talk about monitoring risks and having interventions. We do have the powers and we do that. I can tell you that, in my capacity as police minister, if anybody contacts the police and a child is involved, they have instant priority. They will intervene to the full power of their authority or introduce other people who have other authorities.

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