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Law change to keep dangerous child sex offenders detained indefinitely

22 June 2018

Parliament has passed changes to the law to better protect children from convicted child sex offenders who have been indefinitely detained.

The Sentencing (Release on Licence) Amendment Bill 2018 restricts the availability of the ‘release on licence’ option, where a person who has been detained indefinitely may apply to live in the community under strict supervision and conditions.

The changes respond to community concerns about the release of such sex offenders into the community.

Under the new laws, a person who has been indefinitely detained must show that they are both capable of and willing to control their sexual instincts before the court can even consider whether they should be released.  When making the decision, the paramount consideration of the court must be the safety of the community. 


Indefinite detention orders are used in specific circumstances, such as when a sex offender has served their sentence or is eligible for parole, but is still considered to be at high risk of reoffending.

An indefinite detention order can only be made by the Supreme Court. Once made, the offender is detained in custody until a further order is made.

Before making an indefinite detention order, the court must consider the reports of at least 2 legally qualified medical practitioners concerning the mental condition of the person and whether the person is incapable of controlling or unwilling to control his or her sexual instincts. 

The offender may apply to the Supreme Court to have their detention order removed, or to be released from custody on licence. The new laws tighten the circumstances when this can occur.