Failing to Report and protect children from sexual offending

From 5 July 2021, it is an offence in Queensland for any adult not to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police. This places a legal duty on all adults to report sexual offences against children unless they have a reasonable excuse not to.

For this law, a child means a person under the age of 16, or a person under the age of 18 with an impairment of the mind.

This law was introduced following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which found that failing to report child sexual abuse to appropriate authorities allowed it to continue and prevented children from accessing the support they needed.

A child sexual offence is an offence of a sexual nature committed against a child and includes:

  • Indecent treatment of a child
  • Carnal knowledge with or of a child
  • Rape
  • Incest
  • Grooming a child (or their parent or carer)
  • Making child exploitation material
  • Maintaining a sexual relationship with a child

What would amount to a reasonable excuse is not defined so will need to be considered on a case by case basis. Examples that have been provided by the Legislature are where it has already been reported to an appropriate authority, such as child safety, where the victim is now an adult and you reasonably believe they do not want it reported to police or where you believe the information has already been given to police.

The new law does specify that any information about a sexual offence against a child gained during, or in connection with, a religious confession must be reported to police.

Even if the offending reported to you happened a long time ago, if you received the information about 5 July 2021, you are required to report it. This applies even if the victim is now over 18 you still have to report the offence to police unless you reasonably believe they do not want to reveal the information to police.

The maximum penalty for failing to report the information to police is three years imprisonment.

This post contains general advice only and is not intended as legal advice.