Blog: What changes to child sexual abuse laws mean for all Queenslanders

On 5 July 2021, new laws around reporting sexual abuse of children commenced in Queensland. All adults living in Queensland are now required by law to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

A child means a person under 16 years of age or a person under 18 with an impairment of the mind.

A child sexual offence is an offence of a sexual nature committed against a child. It includes indecent treatment of a child, rape, incest, carnal knowledge with or of a child, grooming, making child exploitation material and maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.

Failure to disclose the information to police is an offence punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

These new laws are in response to the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

For staff working in social service organisations, this means that if your staff and/or volunteers believe on reasonable grounds that a child sexual offence is being or has been committed against a child by another adult, then staff are required to notify police of that belief unless they have a reasonable excuse not to do so.

A reasonable excuse for not reporting sexual abuse against a child is not exhaustively defined in the legislation. It may include if:

  • you have already reported the offence to an appropriate authority or you know another person has or will report it – for example, if you are:
    • a nurse and have already reported it to Child Safety Service
    • a teacher and your school principal or another teacher has already reported the offence according to other laws
  • you received information about the victim who is now an adult and you reasonably believe they don’t want to reveal it to the police
  • you believe reporting the offence would endanger you or another person (other than the alleged offender).

You will not need to report an offence to the police if it has already been reported to an appropriate authority, such as Child Safety Services.

More information about the new laws is available on the Queensland Government website.