News, media releases

Protecting Tasmanian children from serious sexual assault

  • White Balloon day raises awareness of the critical importance of protecting children from sexual assault
  • Labor will implement policies to help prevent sexual assault and severely deal with offenders
  • Guideline judgements and presumptive non-parole periods to be investigated

There is no more important job for a government than helping to prevent sexual assault against children.

Labor is determined to invest in strategies and services to keep children safe in their communities and protect them from serious sexual assault.

That’s why Labor will employ an additional 20 child safety offices to bolster the child protection system so vulnerable children don’t fall through the cracks.

Labor will build an additional six Child and Family Centres so communities have a central hub for support services.

And Labor will take an evidence based approach to strengthening penalties for sex offenders.

Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings said a re-elected Labor Government will instruct the Sentencing Advisory Council to consult and report on the introduction of guideline judgements and/or presumptive non-parole periods in Tasmania.

In addition Ms Giddings said a Labor Government will request the SAC investigate the creation of two new offences in Tasmania – aggravated sexual intercourse with a young person and maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person in circumstances of aggravation and expanding what constitutes aggravating circumstances.

“This is about providing clear direction to the courts – without undermining discretion – to ensure that sentences for serious sexual offences meet community expectations,” Ms Giddings said.

“The community wants the punishment for the most abhorrent crimes in our community to be reflected in appropriate and tough sentencing.

“Labor has always supported stronger sentences for sexual crimes – particularly crimes against children – but rather than adopt a one size fits all approach like unworkable mandatory sentencing, we have consulted with important stakeholders like the Sexual Assault Support Service to find other ways to ensure that sentences fit crimes.

“The SAC has reviewed sentencing in sex offences, both broadly and specifically in relation to children and those reports recommend against mandatory sentencing.

“What the SAC has reported is that there is a strong argument – including from victims – that more direction should be provided to the judiciary on the severity of sentences through the development of guideline judgements or presumptive non-parole periods.

“Guideline judgments provide some guidance to the judiciary on sentencing and aim to increase sentences without removing a court’s discretion in the way mandatory sentencing does.

“Other states including NSW, SA and WA all have the power for their appellant courts to issue guideline judgments – Tasmania does not.

“Additionally, presumptive non-parole periods will be investigated for sex offences against children that could be established either by specifying the number of years that must be served as part of a prison sentence or by specifying a certain percentage of the term of imprisonment that must be served before parole can be considered.”