Submission on 'Failure to protect' laws - Sep 2011

The Commission has made a submission in response to the Department of Justice Discussion Paper, 'Failure to protect' laws, which sets out the Victorian Government’s intention to create two separate offences for adults who fail to take action when they know or believe a child who they have custody or care of, or live in the same household as, is suffering sexual abuse or abuse that may result in serious injury or death, or when a child they were living in the same household as dies due to child abuse and the adult was aware of the abuse and its seriousness.

This submission considers the human rights implications of creating these two offences. This includes discussion of the Charter rights engaged, and potentially limited by, the proposal. The submission examines the experiences of other jurisdictions where these laws operate and identifies a series of unintended consequences that may flow from the enactment of failure to protect laws. Including where these may have a discriminatory effect and/or are contrary to existing government policy.

Finally, we make recommendations to deliver a more rights-consistent approach to the policy aim of parental responsibility to protect children.