Member for Northern Victoria, Tania Maxwell MP has welcomed the news that New South Wales is relaxing the threshold of ‘tendency evidence’ for cases involving child abuse and hopes it will set a precedent for other states.
New South Wales has become the first jurisdiction to introduce the legislation, which will allow evidence of previous convictions and any details suggesting sexual interest in children to be admissible in child abuse trials.
Under current provisions, evidence has only been able to be heard in exceptional circumstances, a situation which Tania Maxwell says has allowed perpetrators to hide their past. Ms Maxwell said the current system was further complicated by the plea bargaining process, leaving vital evidence missing from court proceedings.
Ms Maxwell is hopeful that similar legislation will follow in Victoria and said she will be raising it directly with the Attorney-General at their next meeting.
Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell MP:
“Tendency evidence should be directly relevant in cases that involve child abuse, and I would suggest there are opportunities to extend this into other offence areas, such as family violence.”
“This will provide a jury with the history of a sex offender so they can make a judgement from appropriate submitted evidence.”
“We know historically that only around a third of sexual abuse cases make it to court, let alone succeed in a conviction, because the thresholds have been so high. We would hope there will be better outcomes for victims, particularly children, if a pattern of offending behaviour is allowed to be presented.”
“Our children deserve nothing less than total commitment to hold offenders of sexual abuse crimes responsible.”