Tragic Death of Victim Highlights Government Inaction on Bail Act

Oct 21, 2020 | State News

Shadow Minister for Justice Peter Katsambanis says the tragic death by suicide of an 11-year-old sexual assault victim has highlighted that the WA Labor Government has failed to reform the Bail Act to properly protect child sex assault victims. 

“When he was in Opposition, the Attorney-General John Quigley liked to talk tough and called for amendments to the Bail Act,” Mr Katsambanis said. 

“In May 2017, after he became Attorney-General and after a member of the Evil 8 had fled to New South Wales whilst on bail, he flagged a review of the Bail Act. 

“Yet, three years later, a child is dead and a family is left traumatised after another catastrophic failure of our justice system. Victims and their families remain exposed under a system that seems to prioritise the interests of perpetrators rather than protect innocent victims. 

“Police bail should never be an option where someone is accused of a child sexual offence. It should be completely off the table and any alleged offender should stay in custody until a court can determine bail. 

“A court should only allow bail for an accused child sexual offender in exceptional circumstances and only after a full Bail Risk Assessment report has been conducted, as recommended by the recent report of the Community Development and Justice Committee into family and domestic violence. 

“The Bail Risk Assessment should treat the protection of the victim and their family as a paramount consideration. Before a court finds exceptional circumstances exist for bail to be granted, it should have to be satisfied that every protection will be in place for the victim, including strict violence restraining order conditions for the alleged offender and access to all necessary counselling, treatment and support services for the victim. If these conditions cannot be met, the accused should remain in custody until trial. 

“The government cannot be allowed to turn its back on child sexual assault victims once again. Our community deserves immediate action to make sure no more precious lives are lost. 

“If the government is prepared to finally adopt strong amendments to the Bail Act, the Liberal Party is ready to support their passage through Parliament. There is no time to waste.”