Evidence given to Senate Estimates today by the Australian Federal Police Commissioner further demonstrates the need for law reform to keep dangerous paedophiles behind bars, Senator Claire Chandler said today.

“With 17,000 reports of children being sexually abused in Australia or by Australians, it is way past time that the Labor Party dropped their continued opposition to mandatory prison time for paedophiles and allowed tougher laws to pass the Senate and state parliaments. There is a bill sitting before the Senate right now which would passed if Labor or the crossbench committed to supporting it,” Senator Chandler said.

“Commissioner Kershaw on behalf of the AFP has made clear on numerous occasions that the shocking rise in the number of reports of child sexual abuse to the AFP represents an incredibly concerning and distressing level of abuse being perpetrated on children.

“In response to my questioning today about the impact of the release of convicted paedophiles into the community, Commissioner Kershaw made very important points which should not be overlooked by lawmakers:

My view too is that we probably are looking at deeper research on can these people be actually fully rehabilitated. I think if you asked our frontline officers, and I do, they’d probably say their view is they’re not able to be – so it’s a matter of time before they re-offend and we do see a lot of re-offending occurring”….“A US report highlighted that in their estimate between 70 and 80 per cent will re-offend.”

“The scale of sexual abuse against children in the 21st century is a national and international disgrace. Those who commit these crimes are regarded by the broader community as the worst of the worst. Yet courts and parliaments around the country continue to allow convicted paedophiles back onto the streets where they are likely to offend again. This has to stop.

“I completely agree with the Commissioner’s comments and in my opinion the views of police on the frontline of dealing with these horrific cases, along with the views of victims, should bring significant weight to bear on parliaments to act on tougher sentencing.

“Letting child abusers out of prison after a few months or a few years on the gamble that they have been rehabilitated is undoubtedly contributing to the explosion in the number of child sexual abuse cases. Sentencing for child sex offenders should not be about giving them a second chance, it should be about keeping them off the streets and away from children,” Senator Chandler said.

Estimates also heard that the AFP has already been able to use legislation put through the Parliament last year by the Morrison Government to arrest and charge increased numbers of predators. With such a large number of offenders and children being abused, parliament should continue to give police more tools to catch paedophiles and put them behind bars for longer.