Hon John Quigley LLB JP MLA

Hon John Quigley LLB JP MLA

Attorney General; Minister for Electoral Affairs

    Bail reforms to enhance protection for child complainants of abuse

    14/06/2022 5:25 PM
     
    • Bail Amendment Bill 2022 (WA) to be introduced into Parliament
    • Proposed reforms will ensure child victims are at the centre of decisions around bail

    New bail considerations will ensure that concerns specific to child victims of alleged sexual offences are front of mind for bail decision makers under proposed law reforms to be introduced into Parliament this week.

     

    The reforms follow a commitment by Attorney General John Quigley to examine the operation of the Bail Act 1982 (WA) and identify ways to better respond to bail applications for adults accused of sexual offences against children.

     

    The Bail Amendment Bill 2022 (WA):

    • provides for a bail decision to be deferred for up to 30 days to allow a decision maker to consider what, if any, bail conditions should be imposed to enhance the protection of a child victim of an alleged sexual offence;
    • requires a decision maker to have regard to the conduct of the accused person towards any victim of an offence, or that victim's family member, after the alleged time of the offence and the time of any other offence of which the accused has been convicted;
    • requires a decision maker to take into account several additional bail considerations that seek to address the potential effect the release of an accused may have on the safety or welfare of a child victim of an alleged sexual offence;
    • requires a prosecutor to inform a decision maker of any safety or welfare concerns expressed by the child victim in relation to the release of the accused and, so far as practicable, the reasons for those concerns. A decision maker will be required to have regard to those concerns when determining bail for the accused;
    • requires a court to consider the fact that a person has been convicted of an offence and any sentence that is likely to be imposed when determining bail for an accused when awaiting sentencing; and
    • expands the list of serious offences under Schedule 2 to the Bail Act 1982 (WA) to include sexual offences against children and several other offences in the Western Australian and Commonwealth statute books.

    The Bill has been subject to extensive consultation with expert stakeholders to ensure the right balance is struck between elevating the voices and concerns of child victims of sexual abuse and maintaining the precepts of the justice system.

     

    Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:

     

    "I recognise the traumatic effect that the release on bail of alleged abusers can have on their victims, and I believe it is critical that we emphasise the importance of, and seek to mitigate, this trauma wherever we can.

     

    "This is especially the case when the alleged victim is a child.

     

    "These reforms seek to go as far as possible to ensure the vulnerability of child complainants of sexual abuse remain front and centre at each step of the bail decision making process, without undermining the precepts of our justice system.

     

    "I hope that these reforms will go some way towards ensuring child victims are our priority."

     

    Minister's office - 6552 6800