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Victoria’s new child abuse laws target online offending and reverse onus of proof

July 3, 2017 ·  By Victoria for www.theguardian.com

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Changes to 50 sexual offences update laws to tackle abuse on social media and other online platforms

Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Act 2016 changes 50 offences in Victoria in a bid to stop abuse on platforms such as Skype and Snapchat. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Act 2016 changes 50 offences in Victoria in a bid to stop abuse on platforms such as Skype and Snapchat. Photograph: Eric Thayer/Reuters

New laws have been introduced in Victoria to help protect children from abuse, holding religious, childcare, government and community organisations to account and modernising child abuse material laws.

The Wrongs Amendment (Organisational Child Abuse) Act 2017 has come into force with new duty-of-care requirements for organisations that care for or have authority over children.

The onus of proof has been reversed, reducing the legal barriers for survivors to sue.

Also, the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Act 2016 has come into force, reforming 50 sexual offences in a bid to stop abuse taking place online via platforms such as Skype and Snapchat.

The act also replaces the term “child pornography” with “child abuse material” and has broadened its definition to include physical abuse.

The changes also include possible jail time for “mooning”, which has been added to the sexual offences act and could land an offender in jail for two months, and repeat offenders up to six months. The act describes mooning as someone exposing their bare rear end.

“This major overhaul of our sexual offence laws will give police the tools they need to prosecute predators who exploit changing technology to commit child abuse,” the state’s attorney general, Martin Pakula, said.

The changes follow recommendations made by the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

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