CLERGY members in the ACT are no longer exempt from giving evidence of child abuse from religious confessions, under new legislation introduced today (July 2).
These changes, introduced in the ACT Legislative Assembly, ensure that information received under the seal of confession is no longer protected under the “Evidence Act 2011″.
The changes are in response to recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“The abuse of a child is terrible crime perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our community and cannot be tolerated. Children are likely to have less ability to report abuse or take steps to protect themselves,” says ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay.
“This new legislation will improve access to justice for victims of child sexual abuse and the way perpetrators are investigated, prosecuted and sentenced.
“The right to freedom of religion is not absolute, and the freedom to practice religion in a particular way must never take precedence over a child’s right to safety.”