Tough Laws to Weed out Sex Fiends

By Ashley Gardiner
Herald Sun
March 1, 2012

The State Government will tighten laws related to sex offenders and other criminals getting working-with-children permits.

THE Baillieu Government will tighten laws that have allowed convicted sex offenders and other criminals to get working-with-children permits.

New laws will be designed to tip the balance back in favour of children and families at the expense of those seeking the permits. It follows a string of decisions by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to overturn permit refusals.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the permit system should look after the interests of children and their families.

"The tests that apply under the current law are too focused on the interests of the individuals who apply for checks," Mr Clark said.

"(We have) become increasingly concerned about the tests for Working With Children checks that we inherited from the previous Labor government."

Initial decisions made by the Department of Justice, and any appeals taken to VCAT, will have to pass a "reasonable person" test.

This means that a reasonable person would have to be happy for his or her child to have direct unsupervised contact with the applicant.

In addition, VCAT will need to be satisfied that an applicant would not pose an unjustifiable risk to children in any situation.

Currently, VCAT sometimes considers only the type of work the applicant wishes to perform. Premier Ted Baillieu yesterday said the Government was urgently considering a call to repeal laws that shield the identities of paedophiles.

An inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Philip Cummins said that parents and families had a right to know if paedophiles were living among them. The report said suppression orders on names of child sex offenders undermined confidence in the legal system.

Mr Baillieu said the interests of children was the Government's top priority.



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