As a community, we have a duty of care to protect every child. But how can we do that if the locations of convicted paedophiles are secret, asks Bruce Morcombe.
As a community, we have a duty of care to protect every child. But how can we do that if the locations of convicted paedophiles are secret, asks Bruce Morcombe.

‘We need a public sex register to protect kids’

OPINION

My much loved 13-year-old son, Daniel, was abducted and murdered by a paedophile as he waited to catch a bus in December 2003.

His killer, Brett Cowan, had been twice convicted and spent time in jail for very violent crimes against children.

Yet even Cowan's pregnant wife at the time had no idea about her husband's previous offending.

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation has been campaigning for six years for a publicly accessible register of sex offenders in Australia, so paedophiles can no longer hide behind anonymity.

"Daniel's Law" would let people know the whereabouts of high risk convicted offenders living in their community.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe are calling for a public child sex offender registry. Picture: Brad Fleet/ National News Network
Bruce and Denise Morcombe are calling for a public child sex offender registry. Picture: Brad Fleet/ National News Network

This would greatly assist single parents, who are most at risk when looking for a new relationship online.

The register would be an education tool focusing on protecting and informing the community. And it would act as a deterrent for those individuals with a warped interest in young children.

It is every child's basic human right to be safe all of the time. As a community, we have a duty of care to protect children. But we cannot do this if the location of convicted paedophiles is kept secret?

If knowledge is power, a public register of sex offenders will empower Australian families to help keep their children safe from predators.

We need a register to include up to date information of all incarcerated adults convicted of a sexually related crime against a child.

All repeat offenders and those convicted with the most heinous of child sexual abuse must also be captured.

Offering a modest, workable model, we believe, one-off convictions where the offender has completed their sentence are offered a second chance, and as such, we are proposing that their details would not be included in the public register.

Daniel Morcombe was abducted and murdered by a paedophile as he waited to catch a bus in December 2003. Picture: supplied
Daniel Morcombe was abducted and murdered by a paedophile as he waited to catch a bus in December 2003. Picture: supplied

Individuals would remain on the register for at least 10 years, although judges could adjust the time period as part of their sentencing.

It is important that the register must not identify any child victims, so every effort must be made to preserve their anonymity.

And vigilante laws should protect the physical wellbeing and safety of those listed on the register, so anyone who harms them or damages their property is punished.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton pledged $7.8 million of funding to establish of a National Public Sex Offender Register last year.

But not all States and Territories are co-operating to get the register up and running.

Frankly, I'm very disappointed. Putting your collective heads in the sand and hoping it goes away is un-Australian. We can do better.

At least contribute to the debate with unblocked ears.

We can't undo what has been done, but we can focus on what we can change.

Protecting our children is more important than shielding criminals.

Originally published as Morcombe: 'We need a public sex register to protect kids'


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