Reflect community views
This is what Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party is all about. Or, at least, what has been the driving force for the foundation of the party to which Derryn Hinch attached his name and reputation.
Over the past five years, Hinch has collected 170,000 signatures calling for a national public register of convicted sex offenders. Similar to a public register, known as Megan's Law, which has been in existence in the USA for more than 20 years.
Derryn has met with Maureen Kanka, mother of Megan, the little American girl, murdered by a convicted sex offender, anonymously living next door in supposedly idyllic Hamilton, New Jersey.
Flanked by Bruce and Denise Morcombe, the now Senator Hinch re-launched his petition in 2017 for legislation he wants to be known as Daniel’s Law, after their son who was abducted and murdered by a convicted paedophile who should not have anonymously been on the streets.
If Daniel’s killer’s name and details had been on a register, after the abduction and assault of a little boy outside a Darwin caravan park, maybe Daniel would be alive today.
Hinch has had discussions with attorneys-general in Canberra, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory. In September, 2015 a public register bill was introduced into the Northern Territory Parliament. It subsequently failed. There is a modified restricted version in Western Australia.
In Australia, we do have a register but it is private and managed by a select group of senior police. Not everyone who is convicted of such offences makes it on to the register. (It is at the discretion of the judge or magistrate presiding over each case.) It is not backdated to include people convicted of sexual offences prior to the register being introduced.
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party would like to see changes to the way the register is managed including:
- The register being made public in the form of a website and an app which shows: the offender's photo, name and aliases, crime (as in sexual assault of an adult, sexual assault of a child under 18yrs/ under 10), offender's address, year in which they committed the crime. Note: It would not include the relationship between the victim and the offender, or, any details that could identify a victim, or, any facts of the case.
- All police would have access to the register including confidential details not released to the public.
- Judges would continue to have discretion so that incidents of 'sexting' where young kids exchange inappropriate text messages, which technically fall under sexual offences, don't end up on the register.
- Vigilante behaviour would result in criminal prosecutions, the way any assault or property damage case is handled.
We want a public register because sexual predators rely on anonymity. It is one of their most powerful weapons -- especially against children. In many child abuse cases, the child victim is told 'this is a secret'. Anyone could be a sexual predator, which makes it extremely hard to protect yourself and your family.
Sexual offences often result in suppression orders unlike other violent crimes. These suppression orders are often introduced under the guise of 'it's to protect the victim' but, in fact, it is aimed at protecting the identity of the offender.
When sexual assault victims do come forward -- and suffer reliving the ordeal under the glare of our court system -- they do it not just for justice for themselves. They don't want the person who attacked them to be able to do it again to someone else. If the community is not allowed to know who the offender is, that objective fails.