New Child Abuse Reporting Requirements in Tasmania


Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have been implemented in Tasmania, creating new requirements for reporting suspected child abuse.

This alert applies to all organisations who provide services to children and will likely amend the TAS – Minors and Children and TAS – Criminal Code General Offences modules.

Criminal Code and Related Legislation Amendment (Child Abuse) Act 2018 (Tas)

Please be advised that the Criminal Code and Related Legislation Amendment (Child Abuse) Bill 2018 (Tas) (the Bill) passed Tasmanian Parliament on 11 September 2019 and received Royal Assent on 2 October 2019.

The Bill is due to commence on the day on which it receives royal assent.

The Bill implements recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, including by making it a crime for any person to fail to report suspected child abuse.

Changes to mandatory reporters

Under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997 (Tas) prescribed persons (i.e. health practitioners, police officers, teachers, etc.) are required to notify a law enforcement agency if they suspect a child has been or is being abused or neglected.

The Bill amends the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997 (Tas) by adding persons of the clergy of any church or religious denomination and members of Parliament to the list of prescribed persons who must report suspected child abuse or neglect.

New Offence – Failure to report the abuse of a child

The Bill inserts creates a new offence in the Criminal Code Act 1924 (Tas) (the Code) requiring all persons who have formed a reasonable belief that an abuse offence has been committed against another person who was a child at the time of the alleged offence to disclose that information to a police officer as soon as practicable.

Unlike the offence contained in the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 (Tas) the new offence contained in the code applies to everyone, not just prescribed persons.

An abuse offence is defined in section 105A of the Bill and includes a number of sexual offences, violent offences, crimes endangering life or health, assaults, abductions and stalking.

It is noteworthy that the new offence applies to information gained by a member of the clergy of any church or religious denomination during a religious confession.

Please note that the Code does not specify a penalty for this new offence.  However, section 389 of the Code provides that any crime may be punished by a period of imprisonment for 21 years or a fine, or both, unless otherwise expressly provided.

The Bill also makes changes to the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001 (Tas) to encourage the use of audio-visual evidence to ensure that where possible victims of child abuse are not required to provide evidence twice in proceedings to reduce the risk of re-traumatisation.

Please click here to access the full Bill.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au