Tough new child sex abuse laws

Published: 4 Apr 2018

Offenders convicted of persistent child sex abuse will face a maximum penalty of life in jail under extensive reforms in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

Extensive reforms to implement more than 50 recommendations of the Royal Commission will be introduced before the end of 2018. The NSW Government will formally respond to all the Royal Commissioner’s recommendations in June 2018.

Some of the key changes the NSW Government will make include:

  • a maximum life sentence for persistent child sexual abuse
  • new offences for failure to report and failure to protect against child abuse
  • current sentencing standards to be applied by courts when sentencing historic child sexual assault offences
  • an offender’s good character will not be taken into account by the court when sentencing for historic offences where their reputation facilitated the offending
  • a new offence of grooming an adult to access a child
  • strengthening the grooming offence to include providing a child with gifts or money.

The NSW Government will also establish a monitoring group to ensure the legislative changes operate effectively.

NSW has already taken significant steps in response to the Royal Commission. It is one of the two first states to opt into the National Redress Scheme, has introduced new laws that make it easier for survivors to access civil justice, and introduced reforms for out-of-home-care.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NSW Government has accepted the overwhelming majority of the Royal Commission’s criminal justice recommendations.

“These historic reforms are designed to deliver survivors the justice they deserve and impose tougher penalties on offenders for their appalling abuse of children,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Where to get help

Support for survivors is available through:

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