Pedophiles who prey on children under the age of 10 would face life in jail and their victims would be sheltered from re-traumatisation in the courtroom under a push from the NSW government.
Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton has introduced laws to parliament that would create a new catch-all offence of sexual intercourse with a child under 10, which would carry a maximum penalty of life behind bars.
“The devastating and lifelong impact of an offence committed under this section should carry the harshest potential penalty available,” Ms Upton told the lower house.
The maximum penalty now for raping a young child is 25 years’ jail, unless there are aggravating factors.
The bill also expands the standard non-parole period scheme to include 13 additional child sex offences.
Ms Upton hopes the changes will bring sentences into line with community expectations.
“The community rightly expects that offenders will pay for what they have done, for what they have taken from their victims – their innocence, their future, their dreams,” Ms Upton said.
“However, the community has seen sentences that have not aligned with our sense of right and wrong and our sense of balance.
“We’ve seen sentences which have left us questioning whether justice has really been done.”
Ms Upton also wants to introduce “children’s champions” to help sex abuse victims through the trial process.
She has promised a sexual offences taskforce to oversee a pilot program for specialist procedures to reduce re-traumatisation of child witnesses in sexual assault proceedings.
These might include allowing victims to pre-record cross examination evidence.
A second taskforce would examine options for chemically castrating child sex offenders, the attorney-general said.