Sex Offenders Register (VIC)
In Victoria, when a person is convicted and sentenced for certain sexual offences involving children, the person is placed on a Sex Offenders Register and required to report to police regularly. The register was created under the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004.
Aims of the register
The register requires a “registrable offender” to keep police informed of their personal details for a period of time to:
- reduce the likelihood of reoffending;
- help investigate and prosecute offences;
- prevent offenders from working in child-related employment.
Who goes on the register?
A “registrable offender” is a person who has been sentenced to a registrable offence. A registrable offence can be a Class 1 or 2 offence or one which results in the making of a sex offender registration order.
Class 1 offences include:
- murder of a child;
- sexual intercourse with a child, including outside Australia.
Class 2 offences include:
- indecent acts;
- child pornography;
- child kidnapping;
- child prostitution;
- child grooming.
A “corresponding reportable offender” is a person from a foreign jurisdiction who has been, and would be, required to report in that jurisdiction. They fall within the class of people required to report in Victoria under the Act.
If a court sentences a person to an offence that is not a Class1 or Class 2 offence but it is satisfied the person poses a risk to the sexual safety of a person in the community, the court can make an order that the person must be included in the register. The court can do this of its own accord or on application by police.
Exemptions for offenders
A person can apply for a registration exemption order if they were aged 18 or 19 when they committed the offence. They cannot apply for such an order if they:
- have been found guilty of another registrable offence that is not a Class 1 or 2 offence;
- have been refused such an order previously;
- were a registrable offender at the time of the offence;
- are a corresponding registrable offender.
To grant an exemption, the court must be satisfied that:
- any victim of the offence or any person depicted in material related to the offence was aged over 14;
- the applicant poses no risk or a low risk to the sexual safety of a person in the community, considering:
- the seriousness of the offence;
- the ages of the applicant and any victim at the time of the offending;
- whether the victim was under the care, supervision or authority of the applicant at the time of the offending;
- whether any victim had a cognitive impairment or mental illness at the time of the offending;
- when there was more than one offence, the number and nature of the offences;
- any other matter it deems relevant.
What details go on the register?
Under the Act, the register must contain for each offender:
- their name and any other identifying particulars;
- details of each Class1, 2 or 3 offence of which they have been found guilty or with which they have been charged;
- details of each offence that led to the making of a sex offender registration order in the past;
- the date of sentencing for any registrable offence;
- the date they were released from custody for a registrable offence;
- any relevant information related to reporting obligations;
- any other information deemed relevant.
A reportable offender is required to report within 7 days of being sentenced for a reportable offence or within 7 days of being released from prison, whichever is the later.
At the first report, the registrable offender must report:
- their name (including any past names) and date of birth;
- the address of any premises they generally live and details to identify those premises;
- any phone number or email address;
- the name of any internet service provider they regularly use;
- any identity, username, code or password they use online;
- the name, age, address and phone number of each child with whom they have contact, or the location where the contact takes place;
- the nature of any employment and the employer’s details, including volunteering;
- any affiliation with a club or organisation that involves children;
- any vehicle owned or generally driven, or any caravan;
- tattoos or distinguishing marks;
- any registrable offences committed overseas;
- any imprisonment;
- the reason, frequency and destination of any intended travel out of Victoria;
- passport details.
A reportable offender must report their personal information annually. Any change in personal information must be reported to police within 7 days unless the change is a change of address or having contact with a child, in which case the reporting must be done within 24 hours.
A reportable offender must also notify police and provide details if they intend to leave Victoria for 2 or more consecutive days to travel in Australia, or to travel overseas.
Offender contact with a child
A registrable offender is deemed to have contact with a child if the offender:
- lives with the child;
- stays overnight at the child’s home or where the child is staying;
- cares for or supervises the child;
- provides the offender’s contact details to the child or receives the child’s contact details from the child;
- engages in, to form a personal relationship with the child, any form of:
- physical contact;
- spoken communication;
- written communication.
How long does an offender stay on the register?
A person is required to be on the register from when they are sentenced or from when they are released from prison if they are imprisoned for the offence. The period the person must remain on the register depends on the offence. For instance, for a single Class 2 offence, a person must report for 8 years, and for 2 or more Class 1 offences, a person must report for life.
Non-compliance with reporting
Unless a registrable person has a reasonable excuse, they must comply with register reporting obligations. In assessing whether a person has a reasonable excuse, the court must consider:
- the person’s age;
- whether the person has a disability that affects their ability to understand, or to comply with, those obligations;
- whether the person was adequately informed of their obligations, having regard to the person’s circumstances;
- any other matters the court regards as appropriate.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance is imprisonment for 5 years.
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.