Warning over child sex offender register

  • 14/08/2015
Anne Tolley (File)
Anne Tolley (File)

A psychologist who works with child sex offenders is warning a proposed register may deter sexual abusers from seeking help.

Under the bill introduced by the government this week, all child sex offenders will have to go on the register, including those who committed offences abroad.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, who is in charge of the bill, says the register will not be publicly available but in certain cases information may be released to a parent, guardian, teacher or caregiver.

But clinical psychologist Barry Kirker says the bill may actually have prevent offenders seeking treatment or deter victims from reporting abuse.

He says the vast majority of sexual abuse was committed by family members and not by strangers preying on children.

"Publicly shaming an uncle or a brother does nothing to keep the community safe and further keeps the topic of sexual abuse hidden within families," he said.

"A public register will only compromise their rehabilitation and sustained relapse prevention, as well as have a negative impact on their innocent family members.

"A public register will led to more cases of sweeping it under the carpet and keeping it within the family."

Mr Kirker said the register would do nothing to protect against those at high risk of offending because they are already monitored.

But other groups have welcomed the idea of a register.

Family First says it would help protect communities.

"To bring their criminal offending into the open and exposed to the light of day means that families and school communities will be aware of the safety concerns and can ensure that safeguards are put in place," said national director Bob McCoskrie.

"Child sex offenders need to understand that one of the consequences of their actions will be the right of families and communities to be aware of what they have done."

The Sensible Sentencing Trust also supports it and said: "A child sex offender register is an essential human right of a child."