Law reform body examines sexual offences against young people

The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute (TLRI) is seeking public responses to its latest issues paper Sexual offences against young people.

The Tasmanian Attorney-General asked the TLRI to produce a paper on this issue following a controversial case in which a 12-year-old Tasmanian girl was prostituted by her mother and her mother’s male friend.

The fact that only one of the girl’s many clients was prosecuted gave rise to criticism of both the decision of the Tasmanian Director of Public Prosecutions not to prosecute further, and the law relating to the crime of sexual intercourse with a young person.

The issues paper pays particular attention to the legal defence of mistake as to age to sex offences against young people, namely where a person can defend the charge because they had a mistaken belief that the young person was over the age of consent.

The paper looks at the pros and cons of various options for reform, including introducing a ‘no defence’ age: that is, when a child is below a prescribed age, no defence of consent or mistake as to age can be argued.

TLRI Director Professor Kate Warner, who wrote the issues paper, said that this area of the law was ‘unneccessarily complex and inconsistent in a number of respects’, but that ‘considerable care’ needed to be taken when addressing the issue, as not all child sex offenders and offences are the same.

‘Child-specific sexual offences catch paedophiles in the true sense of the word but they can also, for example, criminalise teenagers for same-age sex,’ Prof. Warner said.

Last month, YFX featured news of a recent ABC Radio National Law Report piece on a related topic, the legal implications of sexting among young people. Those who missed it can read the item here: http://acys.info/yfx/issues/number_188/aprils_news/youth_sexting_and_the_law

The TLRI issues paper Sexual offences against young people can be accessed at: http://www.law.utas.edu.au/reform/reports_publications.htm The TLRI asks for written responses to the paper to be submitted by 29 June 2012.

(Source: University of Tasmania (TLRI) media release, 9 May 2012, viewed 17 May 2012.)

Qld's 'Safe Night Out' results

The 'Safe Night Out' strategy is an action plan to restore responsible behaviour and respect, stamp out alcohol and drug-related violence and ensure Queensland’s nightlife is safe for all. Original article

24 Apr 2014

A new approach to cut death toll of young people in road accidents

Young drivers unfortunately make up a significant proportion of road fatalities and injuries. However, efforts to reduce accident numbers have not achieved much success. Original article

24 Apr 2014

Screenagers face troubling addictions from an early age

Technology literate young people are able to navigate online worlds with ease, but has this ability come at a price? Original article

24 Apr 2014

FYA Propeller Project: Alive

One of the projects featured in the FYA Propeller Project is 'Alive', a campaign started by a young woman who, following the suicide of a close friend, identified the need for others to understand the warning signs of suicide. Original article

24 Apr 2014

Companies freeloading on unprotected interns

Lengthy unpaid internships, long a feature of the American and European labour markets, have become mainstream in Australia over the past two decades. Original article

23 Apr 2014

  More news >