Criminal Law Consolidation (Dishonest Communication with Children) Amendment Bill - Second Reading (resumed on motion).

Second Reading

Adjourned debate on second reading (resumed on motion).

The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (15:45): I was indicating that under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act a number of offences have developed to deal with the protection of children and that, in particular, in addition to the amendments presented today, which expand the deception offences, there are a number of other provisions for protection. In particular, I refer to section 63B of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, which sets out the offences that relate to procuring a child to commit an indecent act.

In the time that I have been in the parliament we have looked at and expanded the provision of the child exploitation material and related offences. Obviously, the use of children in the production of pornographic material is something that we have had to deal with significantly, and section 63B, 'Procuring child to commit an indecent act,' to some degree is similar to the principal offences we are considering when children are victims as a result of the predatory approach of others and the use and abuse of them

In section 63, we have such offences as inciting indecent act by a child; inciting indecent act by a child, basic offence; cause or induce a child to expose their body, an aggravated offence; making a record of a child in a private act; and recording an image of a child in a private act. These are all matters we have had to deal with in the 21st century because of the use and abuse of children to prepare material which is to be used, quite frankly, in the most disgusting manner, and which is then disseminated through this medium we are now having to address. The procurement of a child for sexual activity already has a principal offence and an aggravated offence.

For members who are new to the chamber, I briefly explain that we have basic offences, which have a certain penalty, and then an aggravated offence. The aggravated offence, when we talk about children in these circumstances, is when the offender is in a position of authority: a teacher, a parent, people in the church and someone in a position of authority. There is a long list of people who, if they commit these offences towards a child, have an extra penalty. That is not uncommon in our criminal law, and it applies here.

For the benefit of members, in relation to procuring a child or communicating to make a child amenable to a sexual activity, these offences have attracted a number of apprehensions and successful prosecutions. For the benefit of the house, in 2017 there were 13 convictions for procuring a child for sexual activity, as an aggravated offence; 11 for procuring a child for sexual activity, as an aggravated offence; 23 for communicating to make a child amenable to sexual activity, as a basic offence; and 21 for communicate to make a child amenable to sexual activity, as a basic offence.

That indicates to me, and I hope to members, that we are dealing with multiple occasions where children are exploited or exposed, or assaulted, or groomed for the purposes of being assaulted, and these are the convictions. These are not just the investigations or the prosecutions—these are the convictions. I place on the record my appreciation for those who work in this area, including SAPOL. We must try to ensure that we intervene in a way that is earlier rather than before someone gets access to children and commits these offences. This is not just one or two a year—these are significant numbers. We need to try to make sure that we have laws that will allow for that intervention at an earlier time.

I also thank those who are involved at the national level, including the current commonwealth eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant. They are doing an enormous amount of work in reporting cyberbullying, in reporting illegal content online and image-based abuse, which, of course, is otherwise known as sexting and the like, and in an educational role.

Many have heard of the work of the Carly Ryan Foundation, in particular of the work of her mother, Sonya, with the foundation. This is an accredited and certified agency for the purposes of alerting and educating those in our community. I have even taken my own granddaughter to one of these meetings, which was put on by a representative of the eSafety Commissioner's office. I have heard the powerful contributions of other members who have attended those meetings. When members of the foundation are present, I am sure there is nothing more powerful than Sonya's message directly that, 'This is what can happen to your child. This is what has happened to mine. I will continue to work to try to ensure that it does not happen again in the future.'

It is commendable for those who work in this space to make that contribution, and that sacrifice having experienced that pain, and to be willing to continue to be out there protecting children of the future who would be predated upon if not for being alert. There is a bigger area in eSafety, not just to have the new criminal laws to protect, which we are passing here today, but obviously in regard to cyberbullying and image-based abuse.

These are major areas where we must arm our children with the knowledge, firstly, that they are entitled not to be a victim in this space and, secondly, that if they are, and they find that there are images online that they have not given consent to be published and wish to be removed, they are familiar with who to contact for the purposes of having them removed.

We must arm our children with this protection because, regrettably, there are predatory people out there. As I said, there were 100-odd last year who were convicted of principal offences here in our own state, which ought to highlight the reason why it is important that we advance this bill as soon as possible. I thank members for their contribution.

Bill read a second time.