THE state’s sexual assault support service has called for major reform to the sex offenders register to better protect victims.
SASS chief executive Liz Little will this week lodge a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission on behalf of young Tasmanian women who have been victims of sexual offences.
The complaint stems from a convicted paedophile posting offensive comments about his victim on social media website Facebook.
The then 59-year-old Tasmanian man was convicted in 2011 of maintaining a sexual relationship with a person under the age of 17 and possessing child exploitation material.
The Facebook posts, seen by The Examiner, described the offence as ‘‘awesome’’.
‘‘Judging from the emails and tweets I’ve received, the majority of men in Australia envy me ... it was awesome,’’ one of the posts said.
Assistant Police Commissioner Donna Adams said Tasmania Police would examine the circumstances surrounding the matter.
Ms Little said the planned action aimed to develop ‘‘a more effective use of the sex offender register’’.
‘‘All the sex offender register does at the moment is require people to give certain information about themselves,’’ she said.
‘‘There is no power under the sex offender register to require people not to use social media to make comments about their victims or to be engaged in these sorts of activities on social media,’’ she said.
‘‘I believe the sex offender register really needs to be significantly improved in terms of its capacity to protect victims of sexual abuse,’’ she said.
Police Minister Rene Hidding said the legislation was being reviewed.
‘‘This work is now under way and will consider the current powers and provisions to determine where legislative change is required,’’ Mr Hidding said.
‘‘The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute is also considering the use of social media as part of its review of bullying laws while the Sentencing Advisory Council is looking at sexual offender sentencing, as well as alternative sentencing options generally.
‘‘We will await the outcome of their final report and consider the recommendations.’’
Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesman Greg Barns said the circumstances of the case were highly unusual and nasty, but a class action would not be helpful.
‘‘We need to be very careful not to elevate it into something that means we’re then going to prevent offenders from using social media,’’ Mr Barns said.