In his speech to the NSW Parliament on Tuesday 22 October 2013, Mr Nile stated the following:
CHILD PROTECTION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (OFFENDERS REGISTRATION AND PROHIBITION) BILL 2013
Reverend the Hon FRED NILE: On behalf of the Christian Democratic Party, I am pleased to support the Child Protection Legislation Amendment (Offenders Registration and Prohibition) Bill 2013. The bill implements the findings of the statutory review of the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 and introduces additional measures to the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000. It is very important for the Parliament and the Government to constantly review legislation that deals with child protection. Attacks on children are becoming more sophisticated and we must ensure that our legislation is adequate. The amendments in this bill will help in this regard and will give the police the powers they need.
The bill will improve the operation of both Acts and will strengthen the framework for monitoring and managing child sex offenders and certain other individuals who are living in the community. The Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 enables prohibition orders to be made against offenders who have committed sexual or other serious offences against children, such as child murder, sexual intercourse with a child, acts of indecency against a child and possession of child abuse materials. These offenders are known under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 as “registrable persons”. We are pleased to support the bill, especially as the Federal royal commission into the issue of the sexual abuse of children has heard further startling revelations about the seriousness of this activity and its widespread nature.
Already we have seen a report concerning an organised ring of paedophiles, believed to include Anglican and Catholic clergy, who used a Sunday afternoon children’s Christian program in the 1970s to sexually abuse boys at a church-run Wallsend boys’ home. A Hunter woman said that these men just came, got the boys, used them and then put them back. Her husband had told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that he was sexually assaulted by multiple offenders at the Woodlands Boys Home. Obviously the United Protestant Association was unaware of these activities and has issued an unreserved apology for what has occurred to the victims. Some of the smallest and youngest boys were targeted by the Sunday group. From what the victims told us, these men changed from week to week. This suggests an even larger organised ring. In other words, a group of men would arrive and abuse the boys; and then in another week or so another group of men would come and abuse the boys. So there was obviously a paedophile network operating around Wallsend in that Newcastle region.
In providing evidence before the royal commission
witnesses said that they were aware of a group of men who came to the home in the 1970s for a number of years on Sunday afternoons—apparently to conduct a Christian program. They routinely took smaller boys downstairs into rooms in the building and abused them. Anglican priest and volunteer carer Peter Rushton, acknowledged by the church in 2010 as a sexual abuser of children, and another person—convicted child sex offender Robert Holland—are believed to have taken boys from the home and to have had links with Woodlands. I could go on with the alarming evidence given before the royal commission which just shows the necessity for this legislation.
Even today there was a media report about a worker from the Young Men’s Christian Association. One would assume that if they had been employed by the Young Men’s Christian Association they would be trustworthy persons. In this case, a single mother working every Saturday to support herself and her son paid this man, Jonathon Lord, $100 to babysit her son from 9.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. and trusted him completely—after all, he worked for the Young Men’s Christian Association. The sexual abuse started on the very first Saturday and continued every Saturday for more than a year until October 2011. So this is a very current case. The grief-stricken mother told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about this tragic situation of what had occurred to her child. She said that her trust in the babysitter was such that when he and his mother called around in late 2011 to tell her of sexual abuse allegations against him, and asked her to give him a character reference, she agreed. She offered to recommend him a lawyer. Later that night the mother became suspicious and started questioning her son. As she questioned him it became obvious that Jonathon Lord had been sexually abusing her son. She said, “At that time, my whole world fell apart.”
Last Monday the royal commission heard from several mothers whose children were groomed and abused by Jonathon Lord. He worked at Young Men’s Christian Association centres at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School at Sutherland, at Caringbah Young Men’s Christian Association in Jacaranda Road, at Caringbah Public School, at Lilli Pilli Public School and at Laguna Street Public School. So this affects both religious schools and State schools. I have no mercy for people who sexually abuse children, especially when they are in a position of trust and where the mother or parents trust that person. Often parents trust religious workers or priests and allow them access to their children, not realising the grooming that goes on. These paedophiles are experts at grooming children, until eventually the children are vulnerable to their sexual abuse.
This bill recognises that certain registrable persons can still pose a risk to children even after they have completed their sentence and despite being subject to the registration and reporting requirements of the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000. Under the Child Protection (Offenders Prohibition Orders) Act 2004 two types of prohibition orders
may be made: child protection prohibition orders and contact prohibition orders. Child protection prohibition orders are intended as a means of managing registrable persons of the highest risk to children. A child protection prohibition order works to prevent high-risk offenders from engaging in certain kinds of conduct that may be a precursor to them offending. While the kind of conduct that may be prohibited is not limited, examples of specific conduct that may be prohibited under a child protection prohibition order include: being in specified locations or kinds of locations, engaging in specified behaviour or being in specified employment or employment of a specified kind.
In determining whether to apply for a child protection prohibition order, police conduct a risk assessment of the registrable person to establish whether his or her conduct in connection with his or her previous convictions is likely to pose a risk to children. This is based on the principle that often these individuals cannot stop their behaviour of abusing children. There is strong evidence that their attraction to children to sexually abuse them is incurable. That is why our society is forced to maintain this constant observation of these individuals in various ways through these orders. It sounds harsh, because we think that when people have made a mistake, been convicted, been punished and finished their penalty we can release those persons and wash our hands of them. But in this area we cannot. Those persons are most likely to offend. There is something in these individuals that means they cannot control that desire and attraction to children.
So the responsibility rests on our shoulders as legislators to ensure that children are protected. It may sound like we are invading the privacy of the individuals concerned. One aspect of the bill is that it allows police officers to enter and inspect residential premises of a registrable person without prior notice or a warrant to verify information reported by that registrable person. This may raise questions about his or her right to privacy. But I believe we have to weigh up the public interest of securing the safety of children. That must be the priority of this Parliament.
Finally, as members know, because of my concern in this area I introduced the Child Protection (Nicole’s Law) Bill 2011. I am still hoping that bill may be passed eventually. It recognises the right of New South Wales families, concerned about the safety of their young children, to be made publicly aware of the presence of convicted paedophiles living within their neighbourhood. In light of the fact that these paedophiles do not change, legislators have an implicit responsibility to do all they can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children. That is why I believe there should be stronger legislation to provide that information to parents. I called that bill “Nicole’s law” because five-year old Nicole Hanns was brutally stabbed 17 times by John Lewthwaite, a paedophile, when he was on parole. I am pleased to support the bill before the House.