‘Unfair’ Qld sentencing leaves our kids at risk: MP
Queensland children are more at risk from child sex offenders than any other state due to its “light” sentencing laws, a Sunshine Coast MP says.
Member for Ninderry Dan Purdie said he would speak in parliament during Child Protection Week to highlight how the system was “broken” and more resources were needed to protect our kids.
He said sentencing for child sex offences in Queensland were not meeting community expectations.
“It is not fair for survivors of serious sexual abuse in Queensland to not see justice met like it would be in NSW, where there are much more serious punishments,” he said.
Mr Purdie’s calls to “balance the scales of justice” were echoed by No More Fake Smiles founders Annie Jones and Tracey Morris, who said more support was needed for victims of child sexual abuse in the courts.
“You’re constantly going over your story over and over again. That’s not good for your mental health and it’s also not good for collecting evidence,” Ms Morris said.
The mother and daughter are calling on the Queensland Government to mimic NSW law by introducing standard non-parole periods for child sex offences.
“What does that tell the kids of Australia? You’re worth more, or your value is more or less depending on what state you live in?” Ms Morris said.
“It’s just wrong.
“We’re all one country, our kids all belong to one country, they should be treated the same.”
Mr Purdie, a former police officer and advocate for a national child sex offender registry, said it was “not fair” for survivors of sexual abuse in Queensland to not see justice met like it would be in NSW.
He said a child sex offender registry would give parents an effective tool to help protect their children.
“It’s not about plastering posters on every corner about what paedophiles may live in the area, it’s just giving people access to the information should they need it,” Mr Purdie said.
On Friday, the State Government announced more than $4 million in COVID-19 funding channelled into specialist counselling for children and women seeking support for domestic and family violence.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said Queensland had a multi-agency response to support children at-risk of, or who have experienced sexual assault.
“The Palaszczuk Government’s laws are clear; any person who sexually offends against a child must go to jail,” she said.
Ms Farmer said the State Government’s $12 million response to youth sexual violence included the expansion of on-the-ground services in areas of high need, increased education, three specialist trials and ongoing evaluation and research.
“During Child Protection week we all have a role in putting children first and reflecting on what we can do as individuals to ensure young Queenslanders are safe, loved and cared for,” she said.
“Making child safety everybody’s business has never been more important as it is right now with COVID-19 creating a perfect storm for so many vulnerable families.”
Community-based organisations working with vulnerable families across Queensland have received more than $19 million in state and commonwealth funding to boost capacity and services during COVID-19, Ms Farmer said.
They include assistance with housing needs, counselling for women and children affected by domestic and family and sexual violence and help for perpetrators to stop their behaviour.