Over the years, there has been deafening uproar surrounding the subject of concealing child abuse. This comes after the Catholic Church recently stood by their decision to disagree with a proposed recommendation by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The recommendation stated that religious ministries are required to report knowledge of abuse, even when heard in confession. However, they believe breaking the seal of confession is contrary to faith and will not keep children safer.
Despite the difference in opinion, the NSW Government recently announced tougher sentences for concealing child abuse.
What are the proposed changes?
Under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), the maximum penalty for concealing child abuse is two years imprisonment. However, following the prevalence and severity of child sexual abuse, the NSW Government has extended this sentence to seven-year prison terms in worst cases.
Attorney general Mark Speakman believes the planned amendment to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) will stop people from covering up such significant crimes.
"Child abuse can lead to a lifetime of trauma for victims and should be reported to police immediately. Increasing penalties for concealment will deter people from protecting perpetrators or turning a blind eye to their crimes," Mr Speakman said.
Speaking about reasons behind the tougher sentences, Mr Speakman announced the longer terms would protect people at risk and prevent perpetrators committing offences against other children.
"These reforms will enable courts to impose longer sentences on people who protect paedophiles and other heinous child abusers. In light of recent caselaw, we have listened to the concerns of survivors and the broader community, including more than 13,000 people who signed a petition to Parliament advocating this change."
NSW and Victoria are the only states in Australia with a concealment offence specifically related to child abuse (NSW) or child sexual abuse (Victoria). In Victoria, the maximum penalty is three years in prison. However, the NSW amendments are set to be the toughest sentencing regimes in the country for concealing child abuse.
Other proposed changes to current child abuse legislation
On top of the seven-year sentencing, the NSW Government are looking to introduce a staggered penalty regime for concealing serious offences. Under the proposal, people who hide an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment could face jail time of five years.
The most serious indictable offences include murder and manslaughter.
If yourself or a loved one has suffered sexual abuse, now or in the past, let the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners help. We'll work with you to submit a claim for compensation to ensure justice is served.