This article is written by our sexual assault lawyers as a guide. For tailored advice, get in touch with our team for a confidential consultation.

 The Child Protection Register and the Child Protection Register are the same, and is colloquially referred to as the ‘sex offenders register’ which contain records of people who have been sentenced for certain child sex offences, as well as abduction, manslaughter, or murder of a child. A person named on the sex offender registry is commonly also called a registered sex offender or a registrable person who is required to comply with reporting obligations for a period that can range from 8 years to life. Click here for more on age of consent in Australia.


Sex Offender Registry | Sexual Offenders List Australia

What is a sexual offender? A child sex offender is a ‘registrable person’ who is placed on the sex offender registry, commonly known by the public as the sexual offenders list or paedophile list. It is correctly called the NSW child protection registry under the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW) (‘sex offender registration act’).

A registrable person is someone to whom the court has sentenced in respect of either a class 1 offence, class 2 offence, or an offence other than a class 1 or 2 offence that the court makes a child protection registration order against. These offences whom a person is sentenced for by a court are called ‘registrable offences’.

The sex offender registry is what the commissioner of police is required to establish and maintain in respect of a registrable person which contains the registrable person’s details, including, name, identifying particulars, details of the offence he/she was found guilty of, date of their sentence, whether the person is a child or has a special need or disability, and any other information prescribed by the regulations.

A person who is put on the sex offender registry is required to comply with reporting obligations to the commissioner of police. The reporting obligations require the registrable person to report the details outlined in section 9, and include:

  • The person’s name, and any other name he or she is known by,
  • The person’s date of birth, address of residence, and name and date of birth of any child who generally resides in the same household,
  • The person’s work details, including address, nature of work, name of employer,
  • Details of the person’s affiliation with any club or organisation that has child membership or child participation in its activities,
  • Details of the person’s motor vehicle and registration number of same whether owned or hired, or generally driven by the person,
  • Details of any tattoos or permanent distinguishing marks that the person has, including details of any marks or tattoos that has been removed,
  • Any travel plans to leave the State or country,
  • Details of the person’s mobile phone number, internet service provider, internet connections used, email addresses, internet usernames, instant messaging usernames, chat room usernames, or any other username or identity used, or intended to be used by the person through the internet or other electronic communication service.


What are Sex Offenders Not Allowed to do in Australia?

A registered sex offender is not allowed to travel overseas without first obtaining approval from the Commissioner of Police. A registered sex offender not only has ongoing reporting obligations about their personal information, but they must provide details to the commissioner of police as to their whereabouts. The whereabouts details and personal information of a registered child sexual offender can also be passed on to the Australian Federal Police and overseas authorities.

The overseas authorities upon receiving this information may decide to refuse entry into their country after being informed of the registered child sex offenders’ relevant personal information.


What is the Penalty if a Registered Sexual Offender Fails to Report?

It is an offence if a person who is on the sex offender registry fails to comply with their reporting obligations without a reasonable excuse. It is equally an offence if that person gives false or misleading information to the commissioner of police in discharge of those reporting obligations. These offences each carry a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment and/or $55,000 fine, prescribed by sections 17 and 18 under the Sexual Offender Registration Act.


What is the Defence for Failing to Report as a Registered Sexual Offender?

If a registered sexual offender fails to report to the commissioner of police when required to do so in compliance with their reporting obligations under the sexual offender registration act, an available defence is if there was a reasonable excuse for failing to report pursuant to section 17(2) of the Sexual Offender Registration Act. If this defence is successful, the registered sexual offender will be acquitted of the charge of failing to report.

In determining whether a registrable person had a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with his or her reporting obligations, the court will consider the factors such as age, disability that affects the person’s ability to understand or comply with obligations, whether the notification was adequate to inform the person of the obligations to report, and any other matters the court considers appropriate. It is a defence if the accused person can establish on the balance of probabilities that at the time of the offence, he or she had not received notice, and was otherwise unaware of their reporting obligations.


Registrable Offences

The legislation which governs the Register is the Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000 (NSW). The offences which will lead to one being placed on the sexual offenders list in Australia (the sex offender registry) are referred to as ‘registerable offences’.

There are two types of ‘registerable offences’, referred to as class 1 or class 2. Both classes include attempts, conspiracies, and incitement related to the offences.

As well as those sentenced for a class 1 or class 2 offence, the Court may also make an order for an offender to be on the Child Protection Registration Order, if the offender is being sentenced and the Court is satisfied that the person poses a risk to the lives or sexual safety of children. The court will consider here whether there is a risk that the person will engage in conduct that may constitute a class 1 or class 2 offence against a child. It is not necessary for the court to be able to identify a risk to any particular child or class of children.

Class 1 offences include murder of a child, any offence involving sexual intercourse with a child (including those committed outside Australia and involving forced self-manipulation), persistent sexual abuse of a child, and other similar offences including those under foreign jurisdictions.

Class 2 offences include manslaughter of a child, as well as sexual touching, committing a sexual act, procuring, or grooming a child under 16 for unlawful sexual activity, child abduction, and promoting child prostitution.

Class 1 offences are generally more serious sex offences than class 2 offences.


The Public’s Right to Know About Sexual Predators

Can I Access Information on the Sex Offender Database? Unlike America, Australia does not provide public access to child sex offenders. Similarly to the United Kingdom, Australia follows the UK model in which details regarding sex offenders are not published but are kept on a private record often referred to as the sexual offenders list, the sex offender registry or child protection register which the Commissioner of Police keeps a record of.

New South Wales was the first state to introduce a child sex offender register. Similar registers now exist across the country in each state and territory, as well as a national database which allows police to share information.


The Offence of Disclosing Information About a Registered Sex Offender Person

The Commissioner of Police keeps all reportable information about a registrable person (child sex offender) on the child protection register. A person must not disclose this information unless it is done with the consent of the registered sex offender; a court order; with the consent of the commissioner of police for purposes of ensuring the safety and protection of a child; with the consent of the Minister; or otherwise authorised by law. Therefore, it is an offence to unlawfully disclose information contained on the sex offender database warranting a penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment and/or $11,000 fine, pursuant to section 21E.


The Purpose of the Child Protection Register?

The purpose of the child protection register is maintaining the safety of children from child sex predators.

If you are on the Register, you are required to report certain details to the police. This includes your:

  • name (including any aliases or prior names you may have been known by),
  • date of birth,
  • address you generally reside at (or, if you do not generally reside at any particular premises, the name of each of locality in which you can generally be found),
  • name and date of birth of each child who generally resides in the same household,
  • the nature of your work, the name of your employer, and address/es of your employment,
  • details of your affiliation with any club or organisation that has child membership or child participation in its activities,
  • the make, model, colour, and registration number of any motor vehicle owned or hired by, or generally driven by yourself,
  • details of any tattoos or permanent distinguishing marks you have,
  • details of any carriage service (i.e., refers to text, phone call, social media, and emails) (that you use or intend to use, including any phone numbers used, or intended to be used),
  • details of any internet service provider or provider of a carriage service,
  • details of the type of any internet connection used, or intended to be used, including whether the connection is a wireless, broadband, ADSL, or dial-up connection,
  • details of any email addresses, internet usernames, instant messaging usernames, chat room usernames or any other username or identity used, or intended to be used, through the internet or other electronic communication service,
  • details of your travel (if you intend to leave New South Wales at least once a month or for 14 or more consecutive days to travel elsewhere in Australia, or if you are travelling out of Australia),
  • if you have been found guilty in any foreign jurisdiction of a registrable offence (including where that finding occurred, or that order was made), and
  • if you have been in government custody since you were sentenced or released from government custody (as the case may be) in respect of a registrable offence or corresponding registrable offence, details of when or where that government custody occurred.


Child Sex Offender Reporting Obligations

If you are sentenced to full-time imprisonment, you are required to first report to police within seven days of your release. If you are not in custody when you are sentenced, you must report to the police within seven days of the court date for sentence.

If you are a registrable person who enters New South Wales from interstate or another country, you’re required to report within 7 days after entering and remaining in New South Wales for 14 or more consecutive days, not counting any days spend in prison.

A registrable person must report his or her relevant personal information to the Commissioner of Police before leaving New South Wales unless the person entered NSW from a foreign jurisdiction and remained in NSW for less than 14 consecutive days, not counting any days spent in government custody.

Once this initial report is made, you must report each year to police, as well as within 14-days of any change(s) in your personal circumstances.

How Long is a Child Sex Offender Required to Report for?

The period which you are required to report for will depend on the category of the offence.

For a single class 2 offence, a person is required to report for eight years. For a single class 1 offence, or for two class 2 offences, the reporting period is 15 years.

However, it is important to note that 2 or more offences arising from the same incident are to be treated as a single offence.

If you are a registerable person due to a class 1 offence, and you commit a further registerable offence, you will be required to report for the rest of your life. This is also applicable for those who have committed a class 2 offence and subsequently commit a class 1 offence.

A person’s reporting obligations can be suspended or exempt through an application with NCAT under section 16.

However, if you are under 18, the reporting period is half of what it would ordinarily be. In the case of life, it is seven and a half years.

The only exemptions include where:

  • The registrable offence was dismissed under section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) (i.e., a ‘non-conviction’) or a section 33(1)(a) of the Children (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW) (i.e., the Children’s Court equivalent), or
  • The registrable offence involves a child defendant, and the child is convicted of a single offence involving an act of indecency, possession of child abuse material or filming for sexual gratitude.

It is an offence to fail to comply with any of the person’s reporting obligations without reasonable excuse, as per section 17. This carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and/or a $55,000 fine.

Have a question? Get in touch with our criminal lawyers.

By Jimmy Singh and Poppy Morandin.

Published on 12/04/2024

AUTHOR Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia

Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia are Leading Criminal Defence Lawyers, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Courts.

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