The Victorian Government has introduced legislation which will make it a criminal offence, for anyone in a position of authority, not to take action when they know there is someone in their organisation who poses a risk of sexually abusing children.
“In future, anyone in authority in an organisation who does nothing about known child abusers, or simply moves them somewhere else in the organisation where they can continue to abuse other children, will face up to five years in jail” the Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said in a statement last week.
The new laws will also see people who fail to provide relevant information to police, if they know or believe a child has been sexually abused, face up to three years jail.
It is four months since a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into child abuse in religious and other non-government organisations recommended the State Government make it a criminal offence for someone to conceal or not report child abuse to police.
With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse still ongoing, there are expectations that similar laws could be introduced nationally, in response to recent revelations of several large organisations doing nothing to take action against known child abusers.
The new Victorian laws, and potentially similar laws across Australia, will require Principals and school Executives to be much more vigilant in their communication, training and overall management of child protection and mandatory reporting obligations.
This new legislation is the latest in a line of new laws, including workplace health & safety and privacy, that create onerous personal liability obligations on Principals and school Executives.