Sentencing Council reports back on child exploitation material

Published Thursday, 20 July, 2017 at 10:50 AM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath will consider recommendations in the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council’s review of the classification of child exploitation material.

Mrs D’Ath referred the issue to the QSAC in November 2016 and the council today released the final report, the first investigation of its kind in Australia.

“I thank the QSAC for this thorough investigation of how we can improve the classification of child exploitation material for sentencing purposes,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“These were their first terms of reference since being re-established by the Palaszczuk Government, and this review is an important part of identifying children at risk, and ensuring offenders are appropriately punished.

“Importantly, the report reminds us that child exploitation material is not a victimless crime – it hurts real children in horrific ways,” Mrs D’Ath said.

“These findings will help us to identify the victims and remove them from harm.

“This great work builds on the creation of new offences and increased penalties for online child exploitation in our Serious and Organised Crime laws passed last year.

“We will now take the time to fully consider the recommendations of the QSAC report.”

Queensland’s criminal justice system currently uses the Oliver scale to classify the type of child exploitation material, which requires every image and video to be viewed by investigators. This can consume significant resources and time, and take a toll on officers’ welfare.

QSAC has made 16 recommendations to streamline the process, with two key changes: replacing the Oliver scale with a four-category scheme called Q-CEM, based on the Interpol system; and establishing an eSafeQ Commissioner for Queensland.

QSAC’s Michael Cowen said other jurisdictions were keenly awaiting the final report.

“As an independent body, the council has been in a unique position to review the issue through comprehensive consultation with key stakeholders and community members as well as analysis of police, courts, and corrections data.

“The Oliver scale is not only onerous for officers to use but also tells half the story,” Mr Cowen said.

“To finish the rest of the puzzle and prosecute effectively, the role of the offender – how they collected the material, how they viewed it and how often – and their relationship to the child needs to be included,” Mr Cowen said.

The classification of child exploitation materials for sentencing purposes: final report is available here


Media contact: Kirsten MacGregor 0417 675 917