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NFPs said sex offender database will only hurt more children

Organisations have protested Peter Dutton’s proposal to establish a national sex offender database

Not-for-profits have warned against establishing a national database of sex offenders out of fears it could hinder rehabilitation and increase the risks of reoffending.

President of Blue Knot Foundation, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said the proposal would only increase the chances of children being abused and that there were other methods the government could take if it is serious about protecting communities from offenders.

“Blue Knot Foundation urges a review of the research, overseas experiences and an examination of WA which has a tiered, risk-based approach to public registration.

“Initiatives such as electronic monitoring, community supervision and sex offender treatment programs have also shown to be effective and need careful consideration in place of the proposed public offender list,” Kezelman said.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said that families would be safer if the offenders were publicly listed as the federal government urges states to sign up to a national register, with consultations on the proposal now underway.

It comes after reports to the Australian Federal Police of cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation grew by 77 per cent between 2017 and 2018. Dutton said the register would help deter this increase and ensure parents were “not in the dark”.

“It will send a clear message that Australia will not tolerate individuals preying on the most vulnerable members of our community – our children,” Dutton said.

“The abuse and exploitation of children is a global epidemic that is becoming more prevalent, more organised and more extreme.”

The online register would contain information such as the person’s name, photograph, aliases, date of birth, nature of the offending and general locality, such as postcode.

It will be vetted by law enforcement to ensure it does not identify victims of abuse or breach non-publication orders and juvenile sex offenders would not be identified.

The proposal is facing backlash from child protection group Bravehearts, which said the move was only a “political stunt” that won’t protect children.

Chair of Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston, said: “If governments were serious about protecting our kids, and if they seriously wanted to deal with these very real dangers, they would support our calls for a royal commission into the family law system.

“And they would toughen up laws that currently released dangerous sex offenders back into our communities.”

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