Evidence presented to a Senate Committee yesterday demonstrates once again that victims of sexual abuse feel let down by weak and inadequate sentences handed to perpetrators.
That’s not surprising when last year 39 per cent of Commonwealth Child Sex Offenders received absolutely no jail time when convicted of child sex crimes. Of the remainder who did receive jail time, the most common sentences was just six months in custody.
Not only are inadequate sentences unfair to victims, but they are also a missed opportunity to maximise community safety by keeping dangerous predators behind bars and away from children for a significant time.
Once they are allowed out of prison, there is absolutely no guarantee they won’t offend again. The evidence shows that many do.
The only time we can guarantee that a convicted child sex offender won’t harm children is when they are behind bars. That’s why the Morrison Government is moving to increase maximum sentences and set mandatory minimum sentences of 5-7 years for the most serious Commonwealth sexual offences against children.
Yesterday the Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiring into this Bill, which also establishes a range of new offences and makes it easier for victims to give evidence about their abuse, heard from organisation such as the Carly Ryan Foundation and knowmore, that victims of abuse commonly feel let down by inadequate sentences.
As knowmore submitted to the inquiry “the common view of survivors is that sentences for child sexual offences should be more severe… Survivors also report feeling let down after the stress and often trauma of the trial process, when they find that the offender has received what they consider to be a lenient sentences. This is especially difficult when actual imprisonment is not imposed.”
I hope that all Senators, including Labor members who have previously voted against mandatory sentences for paedophiles, vote with the Government to implement these important reforms.