LETTER TO THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT
The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszcsuk;
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, Dianne Farmer; and
The Attorney-General, Yvette D’Ath
INTRODUCE STANDARD NON-PAROLE PERIODS FOR CHILD SEX OFFENCES
Without adults speaking out it is impossible for children to speak out
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The recent sentencing of Sterling Free, child sex offender in the Brisbane District Court, in particular the non-parole period of 2.6 years, has once again outraged the community. If this crime had been committed in New South Wales the offender would have received an 8-year non-parole period, not one third of the sentence (2.6 years) as set out in the laws of Queensland. The lives of our children should be valued equally in every state and territory of Australia.
It is the role of the government to ensure that our laws reflect the dignity and fundamental rights of citizens and, as a community we do not believe that this is true of current sentencing laws for crimes committed against children. Research for the Australian Institute of Family Studies has shown the longer-term impact of child sexual abuse indicates that there may be a range of negative consequences for mental health and adjustment in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Effectively a child may receive a lifetime of negative consequences from the actions of an offender and, the current sentences being handed down are not reflective of these negative outcomes of the crime committed.
Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that,
“1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.”
Furthermore, the sentencing laws for these particular crimes no longer meet the expectation of the community. Sex offences against children, the most vulnerable people in our society, should carry the heaviest sentences of all criminal acts. At the very minimum there should be a set non-parole period that does not allow for a non-parole period that reduces the sentence by two-thirds. We the undersigned, speak for the hundreds of thousands of children in our society that rely on adults for protection and, request the Queensland Government to urgently review the current legislation with regard to sentencing of child sex offences to better serve and protect our children.