Added: September 5, 2015 – Last updated: June 3, 2017


Author: Ben Mathews

Title: Mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse in Australia: A legislative history

Subtitle: Report for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Place: Sydney

Publisher: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Year: August 2014

Pages: vii + 142pp.

ISBN-13: 9781925118575 (print) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9781925118582 (online) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | Oceanian History: Australian History | Prosecution: Laws: Types: Child Sexual Abuse


Link: Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Free Access)


Author: Ben Mathews, School of Law, Queensland University of TechnologyResearchGate

Abstract: »This work conducts a comprehensive historical review and analysis of the legislative principles for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in each State and Territory of Australia. The research traces and explains all the significant changes in the development of the laws in each jurisdiction since their inception in 1969 to the year 2013. The research also identifies why the legislation changed in each jurisdiction, covering research into publicly available records, focusing on significant government inquiries and law reform reports, and parliamentary debates. The research is situated within a treatment of the modern discovery of child sexual abuse as a widespread phenomenon of significant public health concern.« (Source: QUT eprints: Digital Repository of the Queensland University of Technology)


  Preface (p. iii)
  Part 1 Executive summary (p. 1)
  1.1 Scope and purpose of this report (p. 1)
  1.2 Major findings (p. 2)
  1.2.1 History of Australian mandatory reporting legislation for child sexual abuse (p. 2)
  1.2.2 Precursors to and reasons for the introduction of the laws in each jurisdiction, and for substantial amendments to the laws (p. 5)
  1.2.3 Overseas learnings (p. 6)
  Table 1 Current legislation containing mandatory reporting duties and key provisions: Australian states and territories (p. 7)
  Table 2 Different times when a mandatory reporting duty was first introduced, and summary of major changes: Australian states and territories (p. 8)
  Table 3 National chronological timeline: introduction of mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse (p. 12)
  Table 4 Legislative provisions for the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse, abuse vs harm, and the extent of harm: Australian states and territories (p. 13)
  Table 5 Current mandated reporter groups: Australian states and territories (p. 17)
  Table 6 Key features of legislative reporting duties (state of mind - abuse, or extent of harm - temporal scope): Australian states and territories (p. 18)
  Table 7 Legislative definition of 'child' and 'young person' determining scope of the mandatory reporting duties: Australian states and territories (p. 19)
  Table 8 Maximum legislative penalties for noncompliance with reporting duty: Australian states and territories (p. 20)
  Table 9 Major government inquiries and reports, selected key developments - recommendations and translation into legislation: Australian states and territories (p. 21)
  Part 2 Introductionand context (p. 28)
  2.1 General nature and effect of mandatory reporting laws (p. 28)
  2.2 Three rationales: social policy, public health and crime preventionn (p. 28)
  2.3 Contextual features of child sexual abuse underpinning mandatory reporting laws (p. 28)
  2.3.1 The context of sexual abuse (p. 29) A widespread phenomenon: prevalence (p. 29) Many and perhaps most cases will remain hidden: nondisclosure, and difficulties of detection (p. 30) Harm to victims (p. 31) Abuse of power (p. 33) Nature (p. 33) Multiple victims, and continued abuse (p. 34) Criminal conduct (p. 34) Civilly actionable (p. 34)
  2.4 The genesis of mandatory reporting laws for child sexual abuse: Kempe and the 'battered-child syndrome' (p. 34)
  2.4.1 Child physical abuse: the battered-child syndrome (p. 34)
  2.4.2 Expansion of the USA mandatory reporting law to child sexual abuse (p. 35)
  2.4.3 Salient principles: from physical abuse to sexual abuse (p. 36)
  2.5 Overview of Australian developments (p. 37)
  2.5.1 Early Australian developments: the first Australian mandatory reporting laws (p. 37)
  2.5.2 Subsequent Australian legislative developments: a disjointed course (p. 37)
  2.5.3 A common schematic approach (p. 38)
  2.5.4 How and to whom are reports made? (p. 38)
  Table 10 To whom is the report made, under the legislation: Australian states and territories (p. 39)
  2.5.5 A note on enforcement of the legislative duty (p. 40)
  2.6 Other types of legal reporting duty (p. 43)
  2.6.1 Common law duty of care (p. 43)
  2.6.2 Legislative duty to repor criminal offences (p. 43)
  2.6.3 Limited common law duty to report a known criminal offence: misprision of a felony (p. 44)
  2.6.4 Policy-based duty to report (p. 44)
  2.6.5 Breach of statutory duty (p. 44)
  2.7 Normative arguments about the laws (p. 45)
  2.7.1 Justifications for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse and empirical evidence (p. 45)
  2.7.2 Opponents of mandatory reporting laws for child abuse maltreatment generally (p. 49)
  Part 3 Legislative developments within each state and territory over time (p. 52)
  3.1 Australian Capital Territory (p. 53)
  3.1.1 The first legislation (p. 53)
  3.1.2 Key changes (p. 54)
  3.1.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 59)
  3.2 New South Wales (p. 60)
  3.2.1 The first legislation (p. 60)
  3.2.2 Key changes (p. 61)
  3.2.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 68)
  3.3 Northern Territory (p. 69)
  3.3.1 The first legislation (p. 69)
  3.3.2 Key changes (p. 70)
  3.3.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 74)
  3.4 Queensland (p. 75)
  3.4.1 The first legislation (p. 75)
  3.4.2 Key changes (p. 76)
  3.4.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 82)
  3.5 South Australia (p. 83)
  3.5.1 The first legislation (p. 83)
  3.5.2 Key changes (p. 84)
  3.5.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 93)
  3.6 Tasmania (p. 94)
  3.6.1 The first legislation (p. 94)
  3.6.2 Key changes (p. 96)
  3.6.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 101)
  3.7 Victoria (p. 102)
  3.7.1 The first legislation (p. 102)
  3.7.2 Key changes (p. 115)
  3.7.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 118)
  3.8 Western Australia (p. 119)
  3.8.1 The first legislation (p. 119)
  3.8.2 Key changes (p. 121)
  3.8.3 Timeline showing key developments (p. 124)
  Part 4 Learnings from overseas (p. 125)
  Part 5 The need for evidence (p. 128)
  Appendix 1: Process model for mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse in child welfare, child protection and criminal justice systems (p. 130)
  References (p. 131)
  Government reports, reviews and inquiries (p. 141)

Wikipedia: History of Oceania: History of Australia / History of Australia since 1945 | Rape in Australia | Sex and the law: Child sexual abuse