In April 2012, The Victorian Government initiated a landmark inquiry into handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations. The inquiry’s final report Betrayal of Trust was tabled in Parliament on 13 November 2013 and contained recommendations which included the introduction of criminal offences for failing to disclose and to protect in regard to child sex abuse.
Laws introduced in October 2014 and July 2015 make responding to child sex abuse a community-wide responsibility. It is important that all Victorians are aware of how these new laws could affect them in both their personal and professional lives.
Summary of the new laws
Failure to disclose
From 27 October 2014 all adults (over 18s) must report to police any reasonable belief that a sex offence has been committed by an adult against a child under the age of 16, unless they have a reasonable excuse or another exemption applies.
Failure to do so is a criminal offence punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment.
For more information about the “fail to disclose” offence, including the types of sex offences that must be reported, exemptions and what may be considered a reasonable excuse, please read the following fact sheet from the Department of Justice and Regulation.
Failure to protect
From 1 July 2015, it is a criminal offence for those who work or volunteer within organisations providing care, supervision or authority for children to fail to protect children from the risk of sex abuse by others associated with the organisation.
An offence will be committed when:
1. A person in authority knows that someone associated with their organisation poses a risk of committing a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16; and
2. They had the authority to reduce or remove the risk; and
3. They negligently failed to do so.
The maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment.
For more information about the “failure to protect” offence, please read the following fact sheet from the Department of Justice and Regulation.
Worker training on the new laws
Youthlaw and YACVic have partnered to deliver interactive training sessions across the state to assist workers to understand their obligations under the new ‘failure to disclose’ and ‘failure to protect’ laws.
Featuring tailored hypothetical scenarios, the training explores how the new laws can impact workers in their day-to-day practice. This training will be relevant to workers and organisations across Victoria who work with young people, e.g. youth workers, child and youth caseworkers, allied health professionals, local councils, sports clubs etc.
The cost for the training is $35 for YACVic members, $55 for non-members. We can also provide training to whole organisations at a cost of either $350 (for YACVic members) or $550 (non-YACVic members) for a workshop.
Sign up to attend a session near you or register your interest here.