Stuart Grimley, Victorian Leader – Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party
The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence estimates 40,000 Australian children will be sexually assaulted each year. In 2017, there were over 4000 active persons on the Sex Offenders Register in Victoria.
Opponents of a public register state concerns that include vigilantism, an hindrance of offenders being rehabilitated, research that indicates a public register does not reduce re-offending and having young adults caught sexting being placed on the register. Valid points, but far from a compelling argument not to have a public register.
Firstly, a public register is for serious sex offenders and not for those convicted of lower-class sexual offending, including sexting. Secondly, Western Australia has had a public register since 2012 with no signs of vigilante behaviour. The United States has had a public register for many years after seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by her neighbour who had previous convictions for sexually assaulting young girls. Surely if vigilantism was a significant issue with these registers they would have been removed by now.
In terms of affecting the rehabilitation of sex offenders, I would argue that the rehabilitation of the victim takes precedence over the offender. Cardinal Pell is a prime example of being known as a convicted sex offender and I am not convinced this will affect his changes of rehabilitation.
A public register is about being vigilant and not being vigilante.
If it stops one child from being sexually abused, then it has worked. In determining your position on a public register, ask yourself – if a serious sex offender was living in your street, would you like to know?