New child sex offender laws introduced to SA Parliament
South Australian laws around child sex offenders may soon change, barring offenders from working in places which also hire underage employees, such as hospitality and retail, in a bid to protect children and young people.
“Convicted or accused child sex offenders have no place working in positions where they could exploit or abuse more children,” said Attorney-General of South Australia Kyam Maher.
At present, people accused or convicted of child sex offenses are only prevented from working in a narrow cohort of businesses that provide services directly to children – such as early childhood education and care (ECEC), foster care, or coaching work.
Under the Government’s proposed laws, registered child sex offenders and persons accused of registrable offenses would be unable to work in a business that hires underage workers, where the offender would be in contact with those children, regardless of whether it’s in-person, over the phone or via email.
“Many people in the community – including parents of working teenagers – would be horrified to learn this loophole even exists,” Connie Bonaros MLC said.
“Protections exist for children in schools, at sporting clubs and in a big list of other settings – as the community would expect.”
“Children and young people are safeguarded in volunteer settings, in kindergartens and schools, in juvenile justice settings – they are safeguarded in every other setting except for work.”
“Once the work uniform goes on, it seems that child workers are no longer considered children except, of course, for the purposes of their pay rate.”
“The very same person who has been charged with a child sex offense – who is prevented from coaching a child at a swimming pool – would be able to put on a Macca’s uniform, or any other uniform for that matter, and supervise the very same child at work.”
“I am proud to have played my part in better protecting our kids who deserve to be safe in any workplace.”
Registerable child sex offences include the persistent sexual abuse of a child, gross indecency, and the production or dissemination of child exploitation material.
This prohibition would not apply to employment where the workplace contact with a child was only ever fleeting or incidental, such as during a shift change.
Persons accused of registrable child sex offenses who have underage co-workers would be required to notify their current employer within seven days of being arrested.
The Bill allows for registered or accused child sex offenders to apply for a variation of this default condition, where it may be deemed that the person poses no risk to child employees in the particular circumstances. This would be up to the discretion of the bail authority for the accused offender, or the Commissioner of Police for convicted registered offenders.
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