Criminal offences to improve responses to child sex abuse

Three criminal offences have been introduced to improve responses within organisations and the community to child sexual abuse.

The offences form part of the Victorian Government’s response to the recommendations of Betrayal of Trust, the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations.

See the Betrayal of Trust implementation page of the Justice and regulation website for more general information about the Victorian Government’s response.

The 3 offences are as follows.

Failure to disclose offence

The failure to disclose offence came into effect on 27 October 2014 for adults who fail to disclose child sexual abuse to police. The offence applies to all adults, not just professionals who work with children.

Any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child in Victoria must report that belief to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not reporting.

More information about how the offence may affect the reporting obligations of funded organisations and departmental staff is available in the Failure to disclose offence fact sheet in Related resources.

Failure to protect offence

The failure to protect offence came into effect on 1 July 2015 and applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so.

More information on the failure to protect offence is available as a fact sheet in Related resources.

Grooming offence

A grooming offence is now in effect to target individuals who communicate with a child or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse.

Existing standards, policies and requirements for preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse

Department staff and all staff associated with department funded service provision should be aware of, and comply with, relevant standards, screening requirements, program requirements and policies on preventing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse, for example:

Sports and recreation organisations can also refer to Fair Play Code - Victorian Code of Conduct for Community Sport and VicSport Safeguarding Children for resources about creating a child-safe organisation.