I recently sought feedback about proposed changes to the laws on Norfolk Island to protect children, women and all other residents against criminal violence and other illegal acts.
Following this feedback, changes have now been made to the Child Welfare Act 2009 (NI) and the Criminal Code 2007 (NI).
These changes form part of ongoing reforms to modernise Norfolk Island laws, to enhance the wellbeing of children and their families.
The new laws provide the Norfolk Island community the same protection under the law which is offered on mainland Australia and complement efforts to strengthen support services for children and their families on Island.
The effect on the community of these changes will be limited, based on the Commonwealth Minister's Legislation Consultation Framework.
Changes to laws will mean that:
- A child or young person can now be accommodated with a carer, on or off Norfolk Island, in exceptional circumstances and as part of emergency action.
- Persons providing services to children and families on Norfolk Island will now have the capacity to share information to better protect children and perform their roles more effectively. To protect privacy, information shared is protected by Commonwealth privacy laws.
- The court which exercises criminal jurisdiction in Norfolk Island is obligated to notify the Child Welfare Officer of convictions for sexual offences against or relating to children.
- The functions and powers of the Child Welfare Officer can be delegated to other appropriate persons (such as additional caseworkers) to provide adequate services to protect children and young people.
- Court proceedings in child protection matters will be streamlined and conducted informally so that children and young people are more likely to understand and participate.
- Two new offences will be introduced: the offence of procuring a child or young person for a child sex offence and the offence of grooming of a child or young person for sexual activity.
- The offence of endangering health will be expanded to include non–fatal strangulation.
The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), made the Norfolk Island Continued Laws Amendment (2017 Measures No. 3) Ordinance 2017 on 16 November 2017 which will bring these changes into effect.
The Ordinance will be registered on the Federal Register of Legislation and will be available online from the week beginning Monday 20 November at www.legislation.gov.au.
18 November 2017