- Bail Amendment Bill 2022 (WA) passes through State Parliament
- Reforms will ensure child victims are at the centre of decisions around bail
Child victims of alleged sexual offences will be front of mind for bail decision makers under the McGowan Government's new laws.
The important 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 new laws:
- provide 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;
- require 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;
- require 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;
- require a prosecutor to inform a decision maker of any safety or welfare concerns expressed by the child victim in relation to the potential release of the accused on bail 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;
- require 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
- expand 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.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"The release on bail of alleged abusers can have a traumatic effect on their victims, in particular when the victim is a child.
"It is important that our justice system is equipped to mitigate this trauma wherever possible.
"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.
"As lawmakers, we have crafted the laws in such a way so as to ensure the right balance is struck between elevating the voices and concerns of child victims of sexual abuse without undermining the precepts of our justice system."
Minister's office - 6552 6800