The following Bills fall under the responsibility of the Attorney-General and are currently open for consultation, before parliament or have recently passed parliament.
All children and young people deserve to be safe, happy and healthy, and to be protected from abuse. When abuse does occur, our legal system must allow us to prosecute offenders and impose penalties that protect children from further harm.
This Bill addresses difficulties experienced in prosecuting offenders for criminal neglect of children, in particular due to the current definition of “serious harm” as it applies to children.
As children generally have a superior ability to heal from injury compared to adults, it is difficult to establish that the child has suffered “serious harm” under the current definition. “Serious harm” currently refers to harm that endangers, or is likely to endanger a person’s life, result in serious or lengthy physical or mental impairment, or serious disfigurement.
This Bill replaces the words “serious harm” with “harm” to better reflect the impact of injuries inflicted on children in instances of child abuse, cruelty and neglect.
Maximum sentences are also increased under the proposed Bill. A person convicted of neglect causing death to a child or vulnerable adult would face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (currently 15 years). Conviction of neglect causing harm to a child or vulnerable adult would face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment (currently 5 years for causing serious harm).
Whether the offender caused death or harm, the sentencing court will determine the appropriate sentence considering all the circumstances of the offence, victim and offender.
These protections promote accountability and transparency in government by giving whistleblowers greater protection, and offering clear rules about when information can be appropriately disclosed. It also allows whistleblowers to disclose information to members of the media or a Member of Parliament, should the relevant authority fail to respond within a legislated timeframe. Under the Bill, disclosure to a journalist is an action of last resort.
The Bill proposes that an adult can be charged with an offence if they meet or arrange to meet with a child, and they have lied about their age to make themselves appear younger, or lied about their identity.
If the person intends to commit an offence against the child, the maximum prison sentence is doubled.
This Bill supplements existing legislation covering online communication and grooming.
Two new offences are proposed.
- Maximum 5 years imprisonment for a person who lies about their age to make them appear younger or lies about their identity to meet a child or arrange to meet a child.
- Maximum 10 years imprisonment for a person who lies about their age to make them appear younger or lies about their identity with the intention of committing an offence against a child they have met with or arranged to meet with.
- Online safety resources are available at the Carly Ryan Foundation website.
- View the Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.
These protections promote accountability and transparency in government, and contain safeguards to prevent the laws from being exploited (for example, disclosing information to a journalist for self-gain). In these cases, a court-based public interest test will determine whether or not the journalist must name their source.
Elements to be considered include whether the public interest in disclosing the identity of the informant:
- outweighs any likely adverse effect of the disclosure on the informant or any other person
- outweighs the public interest relating to the communication of information by the news media generally
- outweighs the need of the news media to be able to access information held by potential informants.
- View the Evidence (Journalists) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.
Public hearings aim to increase transparency and accountability in the public sector, and promote community confidence in government.
The matters that the commissioner may take into consideration when deciding to hold a public inquiry are set out in Clause 2 of Schedule 3A of the ICAC Bill.
The new schedule to the ICAC Act will clarify and consolidate the powers and functions of ICAC when investigating maladministration and misconduct in public administration.
- View the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Investigation Powers) Amendment Bill 2018 on the South Australian Legislation website.