Amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)

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Do you need to comply?

Yes, under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Conditions of compliance

In 2014, the Victorian Government amended the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) to include offences of grooming a child under the age of 16 years and failing to report a sexual offence against a child under 16 years of age. The Crimes Act was further amended on 1 July 2015 to include the offence where a person in authority fails to protect a child from criminal sexual abuse.

Governing body members of schools, persons in positions of authority, care or supervision in schools, employees of schools, volunteers in schools, school community members and some students (18 years or over) should be made of aware of some or all of the three offences, as appropriate.

Failure to Disclose Offence

The Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Act 2014 (Vic.) amended the Crimes Act from 27 October 2014 by inserting:

  • s.327 Failure to disclose sexual offence committed against a child under the age of 16 years
  • s.328 Protection of those who disclose under section 327
  • s.329 Evidence and legal proceedings
  • s.330 Confidentiality.

Reporting child sexual abuse is regarded as a community-wide responsibility. Section 327 of the Crimes Act imposes a clear legal duty upon all adults to report information about child sexual abuse to police.

Any adult who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 years of age has an obligation to report that information to police.

This obligation is different to mandatory reporting obligations under child protection laws and applies to all adults, not just the professionals currently subject to mandatory reporting (i.e., registered teachers, principals and nurses).

The Department of Justice has prepared a Betrayal of Trust Fact Sheet: The new ‘failure to disclose’ offence.

Grooming Offence

The Crimes Amendment (Grooming) Act 2014 (Vic.) amended the Crimes Act from 1 July 2014 by inserting the following section:

  • s.49B – Grooming for sexual conduct with child under the age of 16 years

The offence targets predatory conduct designed to facilitate later sexual activity with a child and applies to offenders who are 18 years of age or over.

The Department of Justice has prepared a Betrayal of Trust Fact Sheet: The new ‘grooming’ offence, which provides further information about the offence of grooming.

It is relevant to note that the grooming offence does not apply to communication between persons who are both under 18 years of age or to communication by a person of 18 years of age or over with a 16 or 17 year old child.

Failure to Protect Offence

The Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Act 2014 (Vic) amended the Crimes Act from 1 July 2015 by inserting:

  • s.49C Failure by person in authority to protect child from sexual offence.

If a person in authority knows that someone within their organisation poses a risk of committing a sexual offence against a child and they fail to remove that person who poses the risk, they themselves will be guilty of a criminal offence. As soon as a person in authority becomes aware of a risk of child sexual abuse, they will be under a duty to take steps to remove or reduce that risk.

The Department of Justice has prepared a Betrayal of Trust Fact Sheet: The new ‘failure to disclose’ offence.

If you have to comply, what do you have to do?

Principals should:

  • become familiar with the specific provisions of the three new offences under the Crimes Act (refer to the Amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), and the fact sheets prepared by the Department of Justice)
  • determine those in the school community (e.g., all adults, including some or all students of or over 18 years of age) who should be informed about the grooming offence, as it relates to a child under 16 years of age
  • determine those in the school community in positions of authority who should be informed about their obligations to remove or reduce the risk of child sexual assault with respect to a child under 16 years of age (e.g. governing body members, senior staff in schools, etc.)
  • determine those in the school community (e.g. all adults) who should be informed about the consequences should an adult, who forms a reasonable belief or knows that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child under the age of 16 years, fails to disclose information about the sexual abuse of a child under 16 years to police (subject to exemptions, reasonable excuses, etc.).
  • determine the most appropriate means of providing information about the new offences to the relevant people in the school community.
  • ensure that they and all teachers and registered nurses, who are also mandated reporters under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic), are aware of their mandatory reporting obligations.

What are the consequences if you don’t comply?

Failure to Disclose Offence: Penalty of imprisonment up to three years.

Grooming Offence: Penalty of imprisonment up to 10 years

Failure to Protect Offence: Penalty of imprisonment up to five years.

Who will help you?

Independent Schools Victoria contact:

Kerri Knopp
Director, Director Strategic Relations
Ph: 9825 7210
kerri.knopp@is.vic.edu.au

Peter Roberts
Director, School Services
Ph: 9825 7211
peter.roberts@is.vic.edu.au

Kieren Noonan
School Services Advisor
Ph: 9825 7275
kieren.noonan@is.vic.edu.au

Documents for Download

PDFISV: Amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.)

PDFISV: Amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) Model Policy
(Please note that you will need a Members’ Area password)

PDFDepartment of Justice: Betrayal of Trust Factsheet: The new ‘failure to disclose’ offence

Links and Resources

External linkISV: Mandatory Reporting

External linkDepartment of Justice: Betrayal of Trust Implementation

External linkDepartment of Justice: Betrayal of Trust Factsheet: The new ‘Grooming’ offence

External linkDepartment of Justice: Betrayal of Trust Factsheet: The new ‘failure to protect’ offence