Australians will be able to search an online register of convicted child sex offenders, if a proposal by the Government goes ahead.
The Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon Peter Dutton, announced a national consultation process had begun and called on all states and territories to support the public register.
“It only works in our country if we have the states and territories providing the information,” he told radio station 2GB.
“It can be disseminated by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, but we need buy-in from the states and territories, so we’ll go through that phase now to see if we can land their agreement.”
It is proposed the register would contain the names and aliases of all convicted child sex offenders in Australia, as well as their photograph, age, and details of their offence.
“We think we have a balanced approach here,” said Dutton.
“We don’t identify the individual addresses – I think we avoid the problem of vigilante groups, people forming outside particular residences that may be occupied by a registered sex offender, but we do propose to identify the person’s locality by postcode.”
However, the community would be unable to find out if the sex offender works with or near children.
How we got here
Former radio personality and now independent Victorian senator Derryn Hinch, who has campaigned heavily for more than 40 years for a national child sex offender register, was thrilled by the news.
“I can die a happy man,” he told 2GB. “This is the reason I got into politics.”
Hinch was adamant the register would help parents protect their children.
“This will work,” he said.
“I would go further – but I’m not going to muddy the waters at this stage – and go the full hog and have their addresses published.”
“The general public wants this to happen.”
Hinch, who in the past has been jailed and placed under house arrest for publicly naming paedophiles on radio, was the main proponent of recent laws banning sex offenders from travelling overseas.
“Last year, 858 people were stopped from travelling overseas,” he said. “How many kids in Asia have not been raped because of these perverts?”
Calls for the register come on the back of Australian Federal Police figures showing reports of child sexual abuse and exploitation increased by 77% in 2018 over 2017.
On Monday, Dutton announced more than 800 non-citizens were stripped of their Australian visas in 2018, including 100 for committing child sex offences, 34 for rapists, and 53 for domestic violence.