Petition to remove good character references for child sex abusers

Australian Greens

ACT Greens MLA Andrew Braddock will today table a victim-survivor led petition, calling to end the use of ‘good character references’ in sentencing perpetrators of child sexual abuse.

“Allowing convicted child sexual abusers to utilise ‘good-character references’ during sentencing rewards the very strategies perpetrators exploit to gain access to children,” Mr Braddock stated.

“It is humbling to have the opportunity to speak to this petition in the Assembly joined by inspirational victim-survivors turned campaigners Harrison James and Jarad Grice.”

This petition has been driven by the ‘Your Reference Ain’t Relevant’ campaign, led by Mr James and Mr Grice. As staunch advocates for justice for victim-survivors of child sexual abuse, they have highlighted what they perceive to be inconsistencies in current legislation.

“Our campaign’s message is crystal clear: you cannot be of good character and a convicted paedophile,” said Mr James.

“The notion of ‘good character’ is often used to deceive and manipulate, serving as further evidence of the grooming process. When sentencing convicted paedophiles, this insidious tactic must be taken into account, ensuring justice is served and survivors are heard.

The ‘Your Reference Ain’t Relevant’ campaign has already seen success in NSW, where the Attorney-General has referred proposed reforms to the Department of Communities and Justice. In the ACT, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury has also referred the proposal to the Justice and Community Safety Directorate which is undertaking stakeholder consultation.

“As our petition finds its place in the legislative arena, it’s not just a formality; it’s a clarion call for action. This moment demands that those in power stand up, take notice, and enact decisive change to protect our children,” said Mr James.

“Good character references are irrelevant to the sentencing of those found to have committed child sexual abuse. We know that perpetrators of these crimes often act very differently in public, and amongst members of the community, whilst having the capacity to commit horrendous crimes against the most vulnerable people in private,” Mr Braddock said.

The petition is being tabled today and can be found here.

/Public Release. View in full here.