Criminal offence introduced to protect children from sexual abuse

Cover of Betrayal of Trust report
27 July 2015
Cover of Betrayal of Trust report

All adults and organisations have a role in providing a safe environment for children and protecting them from harm.

A new criminal offence came into effect on 1 July 2015 that will strengthen Victoria’s approach to further protect children from sexual abuse and exposure to sexual offenders within organisations.

The new failure to protect offence applies to a person in a position of authority within an organisation who fails to protect a child under the age of 16 from the risk of sexual abuse by an adult associated with their organisation.

An individual will commit the offence if they know of the risk of abuse and have the power or responsibility to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently fail to do so.

The offence applies to staff in a position of authority in any organisation exercising care, supervision or authority over children, including organisations that do not receive government funding.

This new offence is one of many child safe initiatives being implemented by the Victorian Government in response to Betrayal of Trust, the report of the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations.

A fact sheet about the failure to protect offence is available on the department's website.

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