Child killers who show callous disregard for children causing their death will, if convicted, face life in jail.
The Palaszczuk Government is redefining the crime of murder to include reckless indifference for human life, such as callous disregard for a child causing death, following the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council’s release of its Sentencing for criminal offences arising from the death of a child – Final Report.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said on top of implementing the QSAC report’s recommendations, the Government would also expand the definition of murder.
“For example, a person who sexually abuses a child so badly that the child dies can now be charged with murder, not manslaughter,” she said.
“The changes will also capture those who abuse and neglect the elderly and people with disabilities so badly that they die.”
Mrs D’Ath said QSAC had found the system was not working when it came to manslaughter sentences.
“When a child’s life is cut short, particularly under violent circumstances, the person found guilty should suffer the consequences,” she said.
“That is why the Government will implement a two-pronged approach.
“The Palaszczuk Government will implement all recommendations from QSAC’s report, including the introduction of an aggravating factor to manslaughter of a child under 12, which will increase the lengths of sentences.
“Secondly, we will expand the definition of murder to include reckless indifference to human life.
“This is not unprecedented, this is well-established law in NSW and other Australian states.
“This will hold perpetrators to account and deliver justice for victims and their families.”
Mrs D’Ath said the Palaszczuk Government asked QSAC to conduct this inquiry because it wants to see stronger sentences imposed when people take the lives of children, no matter the circumstances.
“Every child has the right to safety and a home free from violence. And every adult needs to remember that being a parent and carer is not a right, it’s a responsibility. We need to protect our most vulnerable,” she said.
“We are sick of seeing terrible cases where the punishment simply does not match the crime.”
QSAC has also found that there needs to be better support provided to family members of child homicide victims.
“My Department will work with the Queensland Police Service to implement the recommendations of QSAC,” Mrs D’Ath said.
The Attorney-General thanked both the Council for their hard work and families of victims for sharing their experiences.
“The council is an independent body comprised of legal representatives and community advocates with extensive experience in victims of crime,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“I would also like to thank the family members impacted by a child’s death for their critical role sharing their difficult experiences and any suggestions for improvements to the justice system.”
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath