Jesuit Social Services welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Senate inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019.
In our submission, we emphasise that legislation on its own can never provide a complete or holistic solution to such complex social problems as child sexual abuse and exploitation.
We also emphasise that concerns raised by key stakeholders regarding an earlier version of the Bill remain relevant, particularly those concerning mandatory sentencing.
Research has consistently found that mandatory sentences do not work to deter offending, or to address the complex issues faced by many people who may offend.
There is growing evidence that imprisonment serves to increase rather than reduce the likelihood of repeat offending, unless combined with specifically targeted programs for offenders while in custody and while transitioning back into the community after having served their sentences.
In our submission, we recommend national implementation of several innovative programs which respond to men who use sexual violence. These include programs that intervene earlier to prevent child sexual abuse, such as Stop It Now! and the Worried About Sex and Porn Project (WASAPP); and programs that reduce recidivism among people who have committed a child sexual offence, such as restorative justice-based Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA).
We also raise some interrelated concerns. Firstly, the unfairness of the current National Redress Scheme for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse and have been sentenced to imprisonment. Secondly, the unintended consequences of legislative change in other areas that may facilitate child sex offenders to travel overseas to engage in unregulated practices (e.g. orphanage tourism, surrogacy or intercountry adoption) for the ultimate purpose of child sexual exploitation or abuse.
Download your copy of our Submission to the Senate Legal & Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2019