Bravehearts calls for restricted notification of paedophiles

COMMUNITY anger has surged in recent weeks around child protection laws following the sentence handed down to Daniel Morcombe’s killer, Brett Peter Cowan.

Understandably, people want laws put in place that will better protect their children and calls have again surfaced for a national sex offender registry.

Bravehearts supports a sex offender registry, but one that duplicates nationally the Western Australian Legalisation which provides for the public disclosure of limited information relating to released, adult, dangerous, repeat child sex offenders.


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Bravehearts advocates that the first response should be the continued detention of dangerous sex offenders and they should not be released back in to the community, until such time as they are assessed as low risk and that that risk can be managed in the community. We have Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual offenders) legislation across the nation in place now that can achieve this.

However, Bravehearts Founder and CEO Hetty Johnston says the perceived lack of will by the courts to continually detain offenders has meant that a limited register will at least give the community a ‘fighting chance’.

Bravehearts has no issue with the names and details of adult, repeat, dangerous sex offenders being made public. These offenders should not have the right to hide behind suppression orders. Given the failure of the courts to keep these dangerous offenders in jail, we do support restricted community notification – just not for residential addresses to be made public as these laws in the US have consequences that do not help community/child protection.

“Bravehearts advocates the duplication nationally of the Western Australian Legalisation which provides for the public disclosure of limited information relating to released, adult, repeat child sex offenders, specifically the publication of name, up-to-date photograph, date of birth, and date of release,” said Ms Johnston.

This scheme provides a three tiered approach, providing:

  1. Information on missing sex offenders.
  2. A local search facility that allows members of the public to search their local area (by postcode) for: Dangerous sexual offenders subject to supervision orders under the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Act 2006; serious repeat reportable offenders; serious repeat reportable offenders; persons who have been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for 5 years or more, and concern is held that this person poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of one or more persons or persons generally. The search results provide images of the offenders in the area, but do not provide addresses.
  3. Parents or guardians with the option to enquire whether or not a person of interest, who has regular unsupervised contact with their child, is a reportable offender. This is in addition to police having the power to notify residents that an offender is being housed in their neighbourhood.

Conversely some are campaigning for a model based on the problematic experience of ‘Megan’s Law’ in the US.

Bravehearts research clearly outlines why this kind of register does not work:

  • The register may inadvertently reveal the name of the victim.
  • The register may brand innocent members of the child sex offender’s family.
  • There may be victimisation of innocent individuals whose name or physical appearance are confused with those of offenders.
  • There may be encouragement of community anger or lawlessness.
  • Registered paedophiles are more likely to ‘disappear’.
  • Released paedophiles are less likely to register. A much higher percentage of paedophiles register in the UK where the registers are not made public compared to the US.

Would you like to talk to someone? Bravehearts is here to help 1800 272 831

Click here to read more about Bravehearts position and the rationale behind the issue which is causing widespread debate in Australia.