What is the Child Protection Register?
The Child Protection Register, also known as the sex offender register, is a record of people who have been sentenced for offending against a child, meaning a person under the age of 18. The purpose of the register is to ensure the protection of children by monitoring the conduct of registered persons.
The register is kept by NSW Police and is not accessible to the public. Similar regimes are in place in the other Australian states and territories.
Who is on the register?
You will be placed on the register if you are sentenced for a ‘registrable offence’ unless the Court proceeds without recording a conviction against you.
There are two classes of registrable offences. Class 1 offences are more serious and attract a longer period on the register than Class 2 offences. Examples of registrable offences include sexual touching, sending indecent material to a child and possession of child abuse material.
In limited circumstances, the Court can order that a person comply with the register’s reporting obligations if the person is sentenced for an offence that is not a Class 1 or Class 2 offence if the Court is satisfied that the person poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of children. This occurs infrequently.
What are the implications for someone who is on the register? What are their obligations?
Persons on the register are subject to onerous reporting obligations regarding their contact information, place of residence, contact with children, employment, distinguishing marks and tattoos, any intentions to depart NSW and reasons for travelling, phone numbers and internet service providers.
After the initial report you will be required to report to NSW Police annually as well as within 7 days of most changes occurring. Shorter notification periods apply if you intend to move residence or reside in the same household as a child.
Failure to comply with your reporting obligations is an offence carrying a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
How long will I need to report?
Your reporting obligations commence when you are sentenced for the offence, or released from custody, whichever occurs later.
The length of time you are required to report will depend on your criminal history, and the nature of the offence for which you were convicted i.e. whether it is a Class 1 or Class 2 offence. The minimum time you will be required to report is 8 years, and the reporting obligations can remain in place for life for serious or repeat offenders.
Class 1 offence: 15 years
Class 2 offence: 8 years
Class 1 offence and another registrable offence: Life
Three or more Class 2 offences: Life
Offenders who are under 18 years
If you were a child when you committed the registrable offence, the Court may make an order excluding you from the register. This can only occur if the Court is satisfied that you do not pose a risk to the lives or sexual safety of children.
If you are ultimately placed on the register, you will be subject to reduced reporting periods.
What if I leave NSW?
You must notify the NSW Police if you intend to travel interstate for 14 days or more or travel out of Australia. Your reporting obligations are suspended for any period during which you are outside of NSW.
If you are travelling overseas, the Australian Federal Police will be notified. You cannot depart Australia until you have received permission to do so. If you are overseas for one month or more and are not required to report under the regime of another country, your reporting obligations will be extended on your return to NSW by the amount of time you spent overseas.
Can I appeal?
If you are convicted of a Class 1 or Class 2 offence, the Court must make an order for you to be placed on the register. There is no discretion on the part of the Court to exclude you from the register unless you were a child at the time you committed the offence.
If you are required to comply with reporting obligations for life, and a period of 15 years has passed since you were sentenced for the offence, you can make an application for an order to suspend your reporting obligations. The application will be heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, who can only suspend a person’s reporting obligations if it considers that the person does not pose a risk to the safety of children.
How can we help?
If you are charged with an offence against a child, it is important you seek legal advice about your options and any possible defences. Please reach out and speak to one of our lawyers on (02) 9696 1361 (Sydney) or (02) 5104 9640 (Canberra) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lindsay Stankovic, Lawyer