Public to have say on sentencing for child homicide

Media release

26 October 2017

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council has today received new Terms of Reference from the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Yvette D’Ath, on sentencing for child homicide.

The Council’s 12-month review will focus on sentencing for offences involving the unlawful death of a child and will:

  • analyse current sentencing practices and trends, including time ordered to be served in custody before offenders are eligible for parole
  • report on sentencing factors and purposes as these apply in child homicide cases
  • identify any ways to enhance knowledge and understanding of the community in relation to sentencing for these offences
  • examine the approach to sentencing for child homicide offences in other Australian jurisdictions
  • consider whether current penalties imposed on sentence in Queensland adequately reflect the particular vulnerabilities of child victims
  • identify if legislative changes are required to ensure appropriate sentencing
  • seek the input of the community and other stakeholders.

Professor Elena Marchetti, Acting Council Chair, said: “Homicide is one of the most serious crimes affecting our community. When this crime involves children, who are among our community’s most vulnerable, public concern is even more heightened. That’s why we want to hear from Queenslanders about their views on sentencing for child homicide.”

In 2015–16, the deaths of 390 children and young people were registered in Queensland. Nine of these children and young people died as a result of suspected or confirmed assault and/or negligence. Six of these children were alleged to have been killed by a family member and two were alleged to have been killed by a non-family member (in one case the relationship had not yet been determined).

The Council is inviting preliminary submissions from community members and stakeholders to inform the Council’s approach in responding to the Terms of Reference. Submissions can be made via the Council’s website by 13 December 2017.

Interested community members can also register their interest in being kept updated about the review, including future opportunities to contribute, by contacting the Council at:

“The role of the Council is to inform, engage and advise on sentencing matters, including providing evidence-based reports that help guide policy and legislative reform,” Professor Marchetti added. “This initial consultation represents a real opportunity for the Council to clearly understand what the community thinks should form part of our review.”

As well as members of the community, the Council will consult with the judiciary and key stakeholders such as the legal profession, victim of crime groups, child protection advocacy groups and relevant government agencies.

As part of this review, the Council plans to release a consultation paper in the first half of next year, which will provide a further opportunity for the public to have their say on sentencing for child homicide.

The Council is due to report its findings to the Attorney-General on 31 October 2018.

Since its re-establishment in late 2016, the Council has delivered its report on its first Terms of Reference on the classification of child exploitation material for sentencing purposes, produced four Sentencing Spotlights that examine statistical trends for specific offences, including murder and manslaughter.