The Newman Government stands accused of risking child safety in Queensland by recently reducing the minimum mandatory reporting period for child sex offenders to just five years in most cases. The accusation has been made by the Member for Yeerongpilly and Palmer United’s candidate for Kawana, Mr Carl Judge.
Before entering politics, Mr Judge served as a sworn officer in the Queensland Police for two decades. He also specialised as a detective in child protection before being appointed as a Senior Sergeant in policy and legislation development.
“Basically the Newman Government has broken a promise to make Queensland the safest place to raise a child as a result of the recent amendments to offender reporting legislation” Mr Judge said.
He added, “The fact is that the risk of re-offending is still in the vicinity of 14 to 16 per cent at five years after release and based on these statistics it is far too soon to for reportable offenders to be removed from the child protection offender register and a strict monitoring regime.”
In October 2013, Mr Judge introduced a private member’s bill to amend Queensland’s Child Protection (Offender Reported) Act to empower police officers to conduct random audits at the homes of registered offenders.
“The approach is firmly based on deterrence theory and has also recently been adopted in New South Wales,” Mr Judge said.
“We don’t mind that the Newman Government copied Palmer United’s policy objective but we are very concerned that offender reporting periods have been dramatically cut in Queensland. The Newman Government has reduced post-release monitoring of reportable offenders to the lowest level in Australia.”
Mr Judge said he suspects the reduction in reporting periods is really to reduce the costs of monitoring the ever-increasing number of reportable offenders and covertly relieve the increasing strain being placed on police resources. Since the child protection offender registered commenced in 2005, the number of reportable offenders in the state has rapidly increased to approximately 4,500 now being monitored by police.
“It would seem that the reduction in reporting times is effectively an admission that the number of reportable offenders is exceeding the resourcing capabilities of the Queensland Police,” said Mr Judge.
“To provide a solution to this problem I wrote to the Minister for Police in 2012 advocating for a more realistic whole-of-government response to this important aspect of child protection in Queensland.”
Mr Judge suggested a case management model involving: probation and parole officers registering and monitoring reportable offenders in the community, Queensland Health psychologists to conduct regular risk assessments of reportable offenders and recommending recidivism risk reduction strategies as applicable and police officers investigating and prosecuting any non-compliance with reporting obligations.
“A multi-agency approach aligned with department’s core business and expertise is an absolute must do to properly manage reportable offenders and advance child safety in Queensland,” he said.
“Statistically, continuing registration and monitoring for 10 years will see the risk factor for re-offending drop from 14 to 16 per cent to much lower four to six per cent.
“This is based on the Newman Government’s own statistics so it is nothing more than irresponsible for the government to reduce offending reporting periods to just five years in most cases.”
In a sign that Palmer United is now beginning to warm up for the looming Queensland election the party’s candidate for Kawana, Mr Carl Judge, has pledged to increase offender reporting periods and introduce a new evidence-based multi-agency approach to advance child safety in Queensland.
Media Contact: Carl Judge Yeerongpilly Electorate Office: (07) 3848 4410