‘No brainer’: So why isn’t it becoming law?

 

Child protection and education experts have issued an 11th-hour plea for the State Government to make it illegal for teachers to have sexual relationships with students, after failing to include the royal commission's recommendation in legislation before Parliament this week.

The omission of the position of authority offence in the state government's Child Protection Bill has sparked Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry and Bravehearts chief executive Hetty Johnson to call for it to be included.

Dr Perry said the state government should amend the legislation to make it illegal for teachers and other school staff to enter an intimate relationship with students more than 16 years old, regardless of whether there is consent.

"No family expects a teacher or sports coach or other school staff member to enter a relationship with a 16 or 17-year-old student in their care even if consent is given and we think it's about time the law reflected that," Dr Perry said.

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry called for the position of authority offence to be included in the Child Protection Bill.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry called for the position of authority offence to be included in the Child Protection Bill.

"We already have laws that say consent can't be given if it's been obtained by the exercise of authority for serious crimes such as rape.

"What we want to see is that same consideration given to any relationship between a student and a school staff member, as recommended by the Royal Commission."

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson said there should be "no wiggle room" for a person in authority to have any kind of sexual relationship with a child when they were exercising their authority in any way.

"I'm not a lawyer, I might be missing something, but from an advocate's point of view there seems to be no logical explanation as to why it wouldn't be included in the legislation that has been designed to protect children," she said.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson said including the recommendation was a “no-brainer”.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson said including the recommendation was a “no-brainer”.

Dr Perry said the Catholic education sector had twice written to the Attorney-General but the "government has shied away from including position of authority offences in the current legislation, even though its purpose is to implement Royal Commission recommendations."

Attorney-General and Minister Justice Yvette D'Ath told The Courier-Mail the recommendation was important and that the government would continue to work with stakeholders the recommendation and others.

She said the government was implementing the reforms in stages with the current bill before the house to deliver significant reforms, including tough sentences on the supply and use of child sex dolls.

"Including the new offences of failure to protect children from institutional child sexual abuse, failure to report child sexual abuse and legislating that protection does not apply to the confessional seal," she said.

LNP justice spokesman David Janetzki said it has been disappointing how slow the Labor Government has been in responding to the royal commission's recommendations.

"It would be a priority for the LNP to do a stocktake on the status of all recommendations that haven't been progressed if we are elected, including the need for any new authority offences in Queensland," he said.

 

 

Originally published as 'No brainer': So why isn't it becoming law?



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