The Hon. PAUL GREEN [5.37 p.m.]: I speak tonight about the recent publication entitled, “Australian crime: Facts and Figures: 2012”, which was released by the Australian Institute of Criminology. It is an extensive document and I encourage members to familiarise themselves with it. It relates to a number of changing trends and important statistics relating to crime in Australia. A number of key statistics have emerged in the 2012 publication. Some are encouraging; others are disappointing. On a positive note, the overall number of recorded victims of sexual assault and robbery has decreased. Robbery has decreased by 7 per cent, from 14,582 in 2009-10 to 13,617 in 2010-11. Sexual assault cases dropped by 3 per cent in the same period to 17,238 victims, which is 519 fewer victims than in the previous period. Alarmingly, in 2010-11 there were 67 more recorded victims of kidnapping and abduction. There were also 14 more recorded victims of homicide, up to a total of 244 when compared with the same period in 2009-10. In a disturbing trend, the rate of sexual assault offences by 15-year-olds, at 64 per 100,000, was greater than that of 17-year-olds, at 56 per 100,000.
I would particularly like to draw attention to the victims of sexual assault. It is strikingly clear that children remain the most vulnerable group. One statistic stands out above all others. For females aged 10 to 14 years the rate of sexual assault victimisation was 494 per 100,000 population, compared with 96 per 100,000 for males. That is almost five times greater. This is a sick and disturbing trend, and when one combines that with the fact that 60 per cent of all sexual assaults occurred in private dwellings, and given that females were victimised by family members at a much higher rate than males, we have to ask: What is happening to our society? More appropriately, as politicians, we should ask: What are we doing to address this situation?
For males, children under the age of 15 years experienced the highest rate of victimisation. The rate was highest in the 10- to 14-year age group followed by those aged nought to nine years. The vast majority of sexual assaults were perpetrated by “known others”, with another third by a family member. Strangers accounted for only 15 per cent of sexual assaults in 2011, and children aged 10 to 14 years were the age group that were least likely to be victimised by a stranger.
As the lawmakers in this State we are responsible for enacting laws to protect our most vulnerable. The buck stops with us. It is not okay to do nothing, to turn a blind eye and to say that the problem is too big to deal with. Nor should we leave this issue for others to deal with. This is our watch, our kids and their future. Our kids are also our future, and we reap what we sow. The Christian Democratic Party has long maintained that prevention is always better than cure. Harm eradication always trumps harm minimisation.
The Christian Democratic Party has real strategies in place to protect our kids. Among those strategies is the prioritising of educational initiatives in schools to help kids understand their unique dignity as young men and women made in the image of God and fully deserving of respect, love and integrity. Initiatives that help abused children to inform the appropriate authorities, or prevent abuse from occurring in the first place, will always be welcomed by the Christian Democratic Party. This is a bipartisan issue that deserves real consideration and real action. In the area of child sexual abuse, proactive actions will always speak louder than mere words or rhetoric. Justice demands it and our constituents should expect nothing less from us and the Government as the representatives of our community.