Submissions open on Crimes (Child Exploitation Offences) Amendment Bill
Tue 30 Nov 2021
The Justice Committee is calling for submissions on a bill to protect children from online exploitation.
The Crimes (Child Exploitation Offences) Amendment Bill is a member's bill from Labour MP Ginny Andersen that was pulled from the Parliamentary ballot in August 2021. The purpose of the bill is to protect children at risk of harm from online exploitation committed by people 18 years and older.
The closing date for submissions is 10 December 2021.
The bill would amend the Crimes Act 1961 to make it an offence for a person over 18 to use online communications to falsely represent their age or identity with the intention to meet with someone under 16. The bill would also make it an offence for someone over 18 to use online communications to plan to cause harm to a person under 16.
The bill also proposes to increase the maximum penalty for a person convicted of sexual grooming of a young person from 7 to 10 years’ imprisonment.
At the first reading in Parliament, MP Ginny Andersen provided background to the legislation noting (see the Hansard Transcript):
"This bill is designed to help to ensure that our justice system can respond appropriately to protect our young people from those who engage in acts online to harm people, and to harm young people in particular. It is based upon similar legislation that has been passed in Australia, and the law in Australia was known as Carly's Law. It was named after Carly as the result of the efforts of her mum, whose name is Sonya Ryan, an Adelaide mother who campaigned for over a decade. That was after her 15-year-old daughter was murdered after an online predator posed as a teenage boy."
During the first reading MP Jan Logie said:
"But this is a really important conversation. It's about the safety of our children at the heart of it. I'm very pleased that this Parliament is getting to spend time on that conversation. We know that Governments have previously been pretty slow to respond to digital harm in particular, including online identity theft, revenge porn, online hate speech, racism, or extremism. We're slow to catch up. The legislation feels as if there are many moving parts, in terms of protections. So this piece of legislation is discrete, it is fixing a small part of it, and I look forward to the conversation in the select committee looking at how that fits in the whole picture and exploring the detail of it."
She also noted:
"The current law criminalises grooming at the point where an offender arranges to meet a child with the intention of having sexual activity, whether or not the intended abuse occurs. This bill will update these offences to cover digital harm and grooming at the point where the offender arranges or meets up with the young person following online communications."
She also raised questions about the increased penalties and how these fit with early intervention and rehabilitation.
You can find research and information to support submissions in our library under our Quick Search Topic Technology and Abuse.
Also see the report Ending Online Sexual Exploitation And Abuse Of Women And Girls: A Call For International Standards (2021) from Equality Now, an international human rights organisation.
The Justice Committee has submitted their final report on the Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill. The Committee recommending the bill be passed with amendments.
The Australian government has launched their first National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021 - 2030. The Strategy is an initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments, and includes child sexual abuse in all settings, including within families, online and within organisations.