Priests not immune to child sex reporting laws


PRIESTS will be required to report the confessions of child abusers under new laws proposed by the State Government.

The draft legislation, released today for consultation, implements recommendations from the Criminal Justice Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

The new failure to report child sexual abuse offence means priests will need to report instances of child sexual abuse that's disclosed during religious confessions.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said the proposed offence could throw someone behind bars for three years.

Teachers, doctors, nurses, childcare workers and school principals are currently required to report crimes against children to authorities in Queensland.

Mrs D'Ath said religious confessions would not be able to be used as an excuse.

Another offence of failing to protect against institutional child sexual abuse is also being proposed which would carry a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath makes the announcement today. Picture: Jono Searle/AAP
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath makes the announcement today. Picture: Jono Searle/AAP

"Additionally, it was proposed that perpetrators of historical child sexual offences would be sentenced in accordance with sentencing standards at the time of court proceedings rather than at the time when the offence was committed," Mrs D'Ath said.

Under the reforms, childlike dolls used for sexual gratification will also be made illegal.

The dolls, which are designed to look like pubescent or pre-pubescent children, are manufactured overseas.

It is illegal to import the dolls under the Commonwealth Customs Act 1901, however there is no offence in Queensland that prohibits the possession of one when a proof of importation couldn't be established.

"The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring any item which depicts children in a sexualised way or allows a person to imitate sexual acts with a child is prohibited," Mrs D'Ath said.

"This is why we are going one step further than the current importation laws concerning these dolls by proposing legislation making it illegal for any person to be in possession of these dolls or parts to construct one.

"There is concern these dolls may lead to an escalation in child sex offences as they potentially bridge the gap between fantasy and reality and may normalise pedophilic behaviour.

"Also, because these dolls offer no negative emotional feedback, they may desensitise the user from the harm that child sexual assault invariably causes."

A number of the dolls have been seized in Queensland in recent years.

"These changes will ensure courts sentencing child exploitation material offenders will have a clear legislative direction to consider how an offender has engaged with the material and their relationship with the children depicted in the material," Mrs D'Ath said.