Brief review of contemporary sexual offence and child sexual abuse legislation in Australia: 2015 update

Hayley Boxall and Georgina Fuller

Prepared by the Australian Institute of Criminology

ISBN 978 1 922009 95 1

Executive Summary

In 2013, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) was contracted by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Commission) to undertake a review of sexual offence legislation in Australia, particularly as it related to children. This review (Boxall, 2014) contained detailed information about all legislation that had been enacted as at 31 December 2013.

Since the initial report was published, a number of states and territories have revised or updated legislation pertaining to sexual offences in Australia. Therefore, in October 2015, the Commission contracted the AIC to update the previous review to encompass all legislation enacted as at 31 December 2015. Any legislative changes made after this date are not included in this review.
Key changes that have occurred since 31 December 2013 include;

  • Victoria:

    • changes have been made to the definition of sexual penetration (Crimes Act 1958);

    • inclusion of additional offences including ‘failure by a person in authority to protect child from sexual offence’ and ‘failure to disclose sexual offence committed against child under the age of 16 years’ (Crimes Act 1958);

  • New South Wales: Crimes Act 1900 was amended to increase the penalty for ‘sexual intercourse - child under 10’ from 25 years to life imprisonment; and 

  • Australian Capital Territory: Crimes Act 1900 was amended to change the terminology from ‘child pornography’ to ‘child exploitation material’.