Betrayal of Trust Legislation

In April 2012, the Victorian Government initiated a landmark inquiry into the handling of child abuse allegations within religious and other non-government organisations. All practitioners in all services are expected to be familiar with these changes.

The inquiry’s final report, Betrayal of Trust was tabled in Parliament on 13 November 2013 and contained 15 recommendations. The Victorian Government tabled its response on 8 May 2014 giving support or in-principle support to all of the recommendations. Work to implement the Victorian Government’s response is well underway. This work falls into three categories:

  • criminal law reform
  • creating child safe organisations
  • civil law reform 

Criminal Law Reform

The first priority of the Victorian Government has been the immediate safety of children. The Victorian Government has introduced three new criminal offences to further protect children from abuse.

The three new offences are:

  • grooming offence which targets communication, including online communication, with a child or their parents with the intent of committing child sexual abuse
  • failure to disclose offence that requires adults to report to police a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed against a child (unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so)
  • failure to protect offence that applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so.