The validity of a federal government proposal to establish a National Public Register of Child Sex Offenders has been questioned.
The proposed register would make certain information including the name and a photo of child sex offenders available on a publicly accessible website.
A state government spokesperson said Tasmania would need be convinced that such a reform would provide genuine protections for victims.
“The concept of a national public register has previously been the subject of extensive national discussions, including a review of relevant evidence and was not supported at that time,” the spokesperson said.
People Protecting Children president Allison Ritchie raised concerns about the public nature of the register leading towards vigilante justice and said GPS tracking of offenders would provide greater protection.
“If the purpose is to provide protection, isn’t that foolproof? The photos rely on the public remembering these people and matching it up to someone,” Ms Ritchie said.
Ms Ritchie, however, said she welcomed the move towards a national database and hopes this will encourage greater consistency within the country.
“The last thing we want is people shopping states and territories to find the weakest link,” Ms Richie said.
Associate Professor at the University of Tasmania Law Faculty Jeremy Prichard said the current sex offender register in Tasmania operates under the Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2005.
“Offenders’ details are tightly controlled under this legislation, effectively operating on a need to know basis,” Associate Professor Prichard said.
“Tasmania Police can provide information about offenders to individuals or entities in certain circumstances.”
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the register would be a measure to improve protections for families and children.
“It would have a strong deterrent effect on offenders and ensure that parents are not in the dark about whether a registered sex offender has access to their children,” Mr Dutton said.
The federal government has begun consultations with state and territory governments and law enforcement agents and will also involve non-government stakeholders.