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Legislation change and updates

The following Bills fall under the responsibility of the Attorney-General and are currently open for consultation, before parliament or have recently passed parliament.

Criminal Law Consolidation (Children and Vulnerable Adults) Amendment Bill 2018

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.    

Public Interest Disclosure Bill 2018 | Whistleblower protections
This Bill outlines the circumstances in which a person can appropriately disclose confidential environmental or health information in the public interest. It also outlines when a public officer can disclose public administration information, regardless of any confidentiality or secrecy provisions that may apply.
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.
Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill 2018 | Carly's law
This Bill aims to better protect children and young people under 18 years old from adult predators online, by allowing police to intervene earlier. The informal name for this legislation, Carly’s Law, refers to Carly Ryan who was 15 years old when she was murdered by a 50 year old man who lied to her about his age. 

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 

More information

Evidence (Journalists) Amendment Bill 2018 | Shield laws
The Evidence (Journalists) Amendment Bill 2018 gives journalists clear legal protections when they refuse to disclose information or material that may identify their sources.

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.

More information

Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Investigation Powers) Amendment Bill 2018
Under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (Investigation Powers) Amendment Bill 2018, ICAC will have the ability to choose whether to hold public hearings if it is of interest to the South Australian community. 

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.

More information