Adjournment debate: June 22, 2021

Ms MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (20:00): My matter is for the Attorney-General, and it is on the subject of child pornography.

Sadly, this awful topic is one that I find myself needing to raise frequently in this place. That is because of the growing proliferation of this truly repulsive and despicable crime. It is also because of what I regard as the utterly inadequate sentences very often received by those found guilty of it, two further examples of which emerged from court cases in early June and early May.

The first, heard in Shepparton, was a case in which a perpetrator received just a $700 fine and no jail time at all. This was notwithstanding that he was caught in possession of numerous vile child abuse images and tried to hide his possession of these images from police in direct contravention of his obligations as a registered sex offender.

The second case, in Melbourne, involved a man who not only groomed a 13-year-old girl in the Philippines for sex but, again, also failed to disclose to police considerable evidence in relation to his activities.

In court he was found guilty, made a registered sex offender for 15 years and jailed for a maximum two years and nine months. However, following him spending only 34 days in custody, he was then released on a 33-month good behaviour bond, and it was also decided he should be allowed to continue working at the Melbourne City Baths and a Ballarat school. Most of that is disconcerting enough in itself, but it is the last point to which I want to turn most specifically.

I know I am far from alone in Victoria in saying that I find it extremely disturbing whenever I hear, as is increasingly the case, that a registered sex offender is working near to or on the grounds of a school. While I recognise such work is qualified in the act by the definition that it inherently involve or include contact with a child, one of the most fundamental purposes of Victoria’s Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 is very specifically to prevent registered sex offenders from working in child-related employment.

So the action I would seek from the Attorney is an indication of what specific forms of data collection and auditing are performed by Victorian government agencies in order to monitor how many sex offenders are working in or on school grounds, and the number of occasions on which this has led to breaches in any of their conditions.

Alternatively, if no such data collection is available or auditing is undertaken, then I would simply ask: why not?