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decorativeFigures of authority who fail to protect a child from sexual abuse could face criminal charges under new laws.

From 1 July 2015 failing to report and protect a child under the age of 16 from criminal sexual abuse became a criminal offence carrying a maximum penalty of five year’s imprisonment.

The offence is limited to people in positions of authority within organisations that exercise care, supervision or authority over children, which includes schools, child-care centres and residential care homes.

The offence will apply where there is a substantial risk that a child under the care, supervision or authority of an organisation will become a victim of a sexual offence by an adult associated with that organisation.

The person in a position of authority will be guilty if they knew of the risk of abuse and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk, but negligently failed to do so.

For more information read the Department of Justice and Regulation’s ‘Failure to protect offence factsheet’.