The West Australian Government has announced it will amend the Children and Community Services Act 2004 to require ministers of religion to report child sexual abuse, including where they have gained this knowledge through religious confession. The amendment is yet to pass through the West Australian Parliament.
- Children and Community Services Act 2004 to be amended – but yet to be passed into law – to introduce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse for ministers of religion, including where this knowledge is gained through religious confession
- Changes deliver on recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to extend mandatory reporting to religious confession
- $5.7 million allocated to progress Royal Commission recommendations
The new reporting requirements would apply to recognised leaders within faith communities who are authorised to conduct religious worship, services and ceremonies. This includes priests, ministers, imams, rabbis, pastors and Salvation Army officers.
The Northern Territory and South Australia are the only jurisdictions which already require ministers of religion to report child sexual abuse. Similar laws have recently been passed in the Australian Capital Territory Parliament, and a similar proposal has been introduced in the Tasmanian Parliament.
Mandatory reporting laws in WA already apply to doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives, police and school boarding supervisors. If convicted of failing to report there is a $6,000 fine.
The Government expects to introduce the amendments in the second half of this year.
The State’s first progress report into the WA response to the Royal Commission was released in December last year. Of the 310 recommendations made by the Royal Commission that are applicable to the State Government, 108 have been completed and work has commenced on a further 186 recommendations.
The information above has been adapted from a media statement that was published by the Hon Simone McGurk, Minister for Child Protection, Women’s Interests, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence, Community Services.