With effect from earlier this month (5 July 2021), Queensland implemented an amendment to its Criminal Code and other legislation by way of the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020.
A detailed information page for the legislation explains as follows.
From 5 July 2021, a new law will makes it an offence (maximum penalty 3 years imprisonment) for any adult not to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police. This means all adults will have the responsibility to report sexual offences against children to police—unless they have a reasonable excuse not to. For this law, a child means a person under 16 or a person under 18 with an impairment of the mind.
The primary provision appears to be section 229BC: Failure to report belief of child sexual offence committed in relation to a child.
A child sexual offence is an offence of a sexual nature committed against a child and includes:
- Indecent treatment of a child
- Carnal knowledge with or of a child
- Grooming a child (or their parent or carer)
- Making child exploitation material
- Maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.
A reasonable belief is a belief that a reasonable person would form in the same position and with the same information.
A reasonable excuse for not reporting sexual abuse against a child is not exhaustively defined in the legislation but includes that the offence has already been reported, that the victim does not want the offence revealed and (perhaps more difficult in practice) that reporting the offence would endanger the reporter or another person, other than the alleged offender.
Information about a sexual offence against a child that has been gained during, or in connection with a religious confession must be reported to police.
The obligation to report applies to past offences if information is received after 5 July 2021, even though the victim is now an adult (subject to the victim’s wishes as noted above).