The NSW Child Protection Register: Exploring the experiences and perceptions of practitioners
Ms Kate Smithers1
1University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
The NSW Child Protection Register was introduced in 2001 to assist manage child sex offenders in the community, monitor high risk offenders and provide an increased sense of security to victims and their families. In the 20 years since its introduction registration requirements have been enhanced on a regular basis: more people are required to be placed on the register; registrants are required to provide additional personal details to police and are subject to more intrusive monitoring; and penalties for breaches have increased.
The current research explores the experiences and perceptions of practitioners such as psychologists, psychiatrists, managers of non-government organisations, safeguarding officers and lawyers who are working with, and providing advice, support and assistance to, convicted sex offenders living in the NSW community. Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit the views of these stakeholders about sex offender registers as a tool to reduce the risk of reoffending, as well as the operation and outcomes of the NSW Child Protection Register. Themes explored include: types of sex offender registers; decisions about who is subjected to registration; registration timeframes, registrants’ understanding of their obligations; policing practices; and outcomes.
Kate Smithers is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law, UNSW examining contemporary constructions of ‘sex offenders’, and the governance of known perpetrators living in the NSW community. Kate has an Arts degree and Law degree from Macquarie University and a Masters of Criminology, from the University of Sydney. Kate has worked for nearly 20 years in NSW Integrity agencies providing oversight to the NSW corrective services, policing and child protection systems.