Inquiry Rules Sex Fiends' Identities Should Be Revealed

By Ashley Gardiner and Grant McArthur
Herald Sun
February 29, 2012

Sex offenders

PARENTS and families should have a right to know if a paedophile is living among them, a new report says.

Suppression orders on the names of child sex offenders comfort paedophiles and undermine confidence in the legal system, it says.

The 900-page report into child abuse, commissioned by the Baillieu Government and tabled in State Parliament yesterday, pulled apart the state's Serious Sex Offenders (Detention and Supervision) Act.

"Repeal would enhance the protection of vulnerable victims and would affirm the principle of open courts," the report said.

"The community has a right to be informed about the functioning of the system in relation to serious sex offenders. As a group, paedophiles are the most recidivist of all major categories of offenders.

"The methodology of the paedophile is secrecy and the law should not itself provide a veil of secrecy to paedophiles."

Before the laws were introduced in 2005, the Herald Sun was able to report that experts wanted a notorious paedophile to roam free to see if he would attack again - even though he was considered a 54 per cent chance to reoffend within 15 years.

Under the 2005 Act, such information could not have been published.

The inquiry, headed by former Supreme Court judge Philip Cummins, said vigilante behaviour could be controlled by other means, such as laws prohibiting the harassment of an identified offender.

The report noted that broadcaster Derryn Hinch had challenged the law, and was sentenced for it, but said the magistrate had acted according to the law.

"Rather, it is the legislation that is wrong and the inquiry by majority considers it should be repealed," the report said.

Two of the three inquiry members supported this view, but one dissented, saying the law should be retained.

A spokesman for Corrections Minister Andrew McIntosh last night said the recommendation would be considered.

The Baillieu Government yesterday announced sweeping reforms to the crisis-plagued child protection system.

This included a "downpayment" of $61 million that will include an extra 42 frontline child protection workers.

Three crisis centres where specialist sexual abuse police officers will work beside child protection workers and counsellors will be set up.

Mr Baillieu said the Government would respond to the report's 90 recommendations.

"The failures of the child protection system over the past decade in Victoria have been this state's shame," he said.

Other recommendations include an overhaul for the Children's Court to make it less adversarial and a review of alcohol pricing due to its role in abuse.

The report said 60 Victorian children have to be removed from dangerous homes each week, spending an average 18 months bouncing between different types of care.

Getting into care has been almost impossible for more than 2000 children, who had to be reported to child protection workers more than 10 times as they continually slipped through the cracks.

Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said there should be more adoption instead of sending children back to abusive parents.


Any original material on these pages is copyright 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.