On 10 Jan 2019, Child Wise made a submission to the Australian Federal Government in response to a call for consultation papers on a proposed National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders (the Register). The Register was proposed by the Government as a way to publicly identify convicted child sex offenders and make certain information about their identity, including names, photographs and the nature of their conviction, publicly available.
Child Wise supports a public consultation process that considers a nationally consistent approach to public registration of child sex offenders, however is concerned about the limited timescale allocated to this process thus far. Child Wise urges a measured, well-paced and collaborative approach which engages stakeholders in considering the implications of a National Register of Child Sex Offenders, and developing strategies to mitigate potential risks.
In particular, Child Wise wishes to highlight the potential unintended consequence of such a register in creating unrealistic expectations of its safeguarding potential. As significant numbers of perpetrators continue to evade prosecution, and most child sexual abuse is perpetrated by individuals known to the child, a national register must be seen as only one part of a much larger safeguarding system, which includes families, communities and organisations.
At Child Wise, our core aim is the creation of child safe communities. To this end, we welcome the opportunity to participate in any future community consultation regarding a National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders.