NICK XENOPHON M.L.C.
INDEPENDENT NO POKIES
MEMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
LAW TO REQUIRE PRIESTS
TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE PASSES FIRST HURDLE
A move to require priests,
church workers and volunteers (as well as recreational service workers and
volunteers) to become mandatory notifiers of knowledge of child abuse passed the
Upper House last night – despite opposition from the Government.
The legislation, the Children’s
Protection (Mandatory Reporting) Amendment Bill 2003, was first introduced
by No Pokies MLC Nick Xenophon in September 2003 and will now go to the Lower
House for debate.
The measure passed was first
recommended by the Layton Report into Child Protection – released in March
2003. The Xenophon Bill controversially went a step further than the Layton
Report, as it sought to take away the recommended exemption for mandatory
reporting of information about child abuse revealed in the confessional.
An amendment to the Bill moved
by Shadow Attorney-General Robert Lawson that reinstated the exemption
recommended by the Layton Report was successful.
Mr Xenophon said he was “gob-smacked”
by the Government’s approach to the Bill.
September 2003, then Social Justice
Minister Steph Key said the Government intended to introduce its own laws within
months. In June 2004 Police Minister Kevin Foley announced in Parliament,
following the report of the inquiry into the handling of sex abuse claims within
the Anglican Church said the Government would ‘urgently introduce legislation
extending mandatory reporting requirements to staff and volunteers of church and
other religious organisations.’” (Hansard 2/6/04, page 2388)
25 months after the
Mr Xenophon said the
Government’s excuses that they were still working on a ‘better’ version of
the Bill and still consulting with churches just “didn’t wash”.
He also said that whilst he was “disappointed” the confessional was exempted, the alternative was for the Bill to fail in the Upper House, and the measure was still a “dramatic improvement” to require notification of child abuse.
Written and authorised by Nick Xenophon, 653 Lower North East Road, Paradise, SA 5075