Chair and Founder of Bravehearts, Hetty Johnston AM, Australia’s leading voice for child protection, has called out the Morrison Governments’ call for Megan’s Law in Australia as nothing more than a political stunt.
Hetty Johnston said “there is not a stronger or more passionate voice for the protection of children than Bravehearts. I understand totally why the government is doing this and I understand 100% why the public might want to support it. I did when I first heard of Megan’s Law in the USA but when you look at the facts it is clear that this solution simply does not work to protect children. It makes the community feel better but it does not protect our children.
“If government was serious about protecting our kids and if they seriously wanted to deal with these very real dangers they would support our calls for a Royal Commission into the Family Law System and they would toughen up laws that currently release dangerous sex offenders back into our communities.
“The bottom line is that all dangerous and repeat sex offenders should not be on a register, they should be in jail. No offender should be released until the risk they pose is of a level that can be managed in the community. A register will not keep children safe,” she said.
“The real solutions lie in tougher sentencing, continued detention, community awareness and compulsory effective personal safety education for all children and young people 3 – 18.
In terms of lists, Sarah’s Law from the UK is the best solution to this issue because it deals with the predominant group of child sex offenders – namely, those 85-95% that are known and trusted to the child and family.
If we are to have a register then the West Australian government already has the best system as it combines the best of Sarah’s Law and Megan’s law.
Bravehearts support all proposals that would stop child sex offenders having access to children but our tough, rational and effective proposals are consistently rejected by the Government.
The ability of a public register alone to achieve what current laws have failed to do has shown to be limited in the United States where the laws have been enacted for a significant period of time.
Megan’s Law has already proven itself to be a monumental failure in the United States in terms of child protection. It costs tens of millions to run and robs police budgets thus reducing their capacity to respond to actual child protection activities, it is unreliable, inaccurate, ineffective and ultimately causes more harm than it prevents (in California, costs of maintaining the register and implementing notification in that State costs an estimated $15 to $20 million dollars per year).
Bravehearts call on the Government to instead enact effective solutions to this very real issue. Legislation and policy must rely on evidence to back up its effectiveness.
It is so frustrating that Governments are really good at child protection rhetoric but when it comes to actually protecting children the consistently fail.”
Some of the facts:
- Only 10% of child sex offenders are known to authorities and may be on the Register;
- 90% of child sex offenders are currently living undetected and unbeknownst in our suburbs as our neighbours and friends;
- Most sex offenders 85-95% commit crimes against children and family who are known to them and so would commonly therefore not be on the register (to protect the identity of the child);
- State registration requirements of sex offenders differ across the nation, the periods of registration that apply to all offenders differ and the majority of the 10% known offenders will fall off the register when their time expires.
Government assertions that this policy is based on their desire for the best protection possible for our children is just wrong. This is about votes.