Sally Zachary’s cry for help from Florida demonstrates that conservative and insular communities like the Coptic Orthodox communities are not immune to the horrors of sexual abuse. We welcome the response thus far from many priests and various Bishops in the USA and Europe who have come out and spoken out on the issue. We hope the church implements strict measures to ensures that these cases do not occur again and simultaneously encourage other victims to seek justice. Below is a summary of recent changes in New South Wales following the Royal Commission into institutional child sexual abuse.
NSW and Victoria are the only states in Australia with a concealment offence specifically related to child abuse (NSW) or child sexual abuse (Victoria). In Victoria, the maximum penalty is three years in prison.
In NSW, The Criminal Legislation Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Bill 2018 was the State government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Along with creating new offences, the Child Sexual Abuse Bill also restructures the sexual offences contained in division 10 of the Crimes Act 1900.
Another key offence the bill creates is failing to report a child abuse offence. Contained in the new section 316A of the Crimes Act, this law requires all adults to report information to police if they know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child is being abused.
An individual who fails to report such information will be liable to up to two years imprisonment. And if it’s found the individual accepted a benefit in return for keeping quiet about an incident of child abuse, they can be sent away for up to five years.
This offence covers both serious physical abuse, as well as sexual abuse.
The Australian Coptic Movement Association