New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse
Three new criminal offences have been introduced to improve responses within organisations and the community to child sexual abuse.
The offences form part of the Victorian Government’s response to the recommendations of Betrayal of Trust, the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations.
‘Failure to disclose’ offence
A new offence came into effect on 27 October 2014 for adults who fail to disclose child sexual abuse to police. The new offence applies to all adults, not just professionals who work with children.
Any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child in Victoria must report that belief to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not reporting.
For information about how the offence may affect the reporting obligations of funded organisations and Department of Health & Human Services staff, a fact sheet is available to download from this page.
‘Failure to protect’ offence
A new 'failure to protect' offence came into effect on 1 July 2015 that applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so.
A fact sheet is available to download from this page with more information about the offence.
A grooming offence is now in effect to target individuals who communicate with a child or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.
Existing standards, policies and requirements for preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse
Departmental staff and all staff associated with department funded service provision should be aware of, and comply with, relevant standards, screening requirements, program requirements and policies on preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse, for example:
- Critical Client Incident Management Instruction (Human Services) (external site, opens in a new window)
- Instruction on Responding to Allegations of Physical or Sexual Assault (RAPSA) (external site, opens in a new window)
- Incident Reporting Instruction (Health) - for non-VHIMS reporting organisations (external site, opens in a new window)
- Victorian Health Incident Management Policy (Health) - for VHIMS reporting organisations (external site, opens in a new window).
Sports and recreation organisations can also refer to theVictorian Code of Conduct for Community Sport and VicSport ‘Safeguarding Children’ websites for resources about creating child-safe organisations (external sites, open in a new window).
For further information about the Betrayal of Trust response, please visit the Department of Justice & Regulation website (external site, opens in a new window).
- Department of Health & Human Services fact sheet - Failure to protect offence (doc 159.0 KB)
- Failure to disclose fact sheet - DHS staff and organisations (doc 158.5 KB)