Northern Territory to launch online public sex offender register-Please follow suit


Bruce and Denise Morcombe

Photo: Bruce and Denise Morcombe attended the announcement of the NT’s public sex offender register. (ABC News: Ruby Jones)

Convicted sex offenders in the Northern Territory will soon have their name, image, physical description and whereabouts posted on a government website.

Legislation announced today has been named Daniel’s Law after Queensland teenager Daniel Morcombe, who was murdered in 2003 by a convicted sex offender on parole.

Although details have not been finalised, it was believed all of the information published about a sex offender would be publicly accessible.

The NT Criminal Lawyers Association slammed the idea, saying naming and shaming made it harder for offenders to rehabilitate without making anyone safer.

NT Attorney-General John Elferink said it would be the first website of its kind in Australia and it was expected to be launched next year.

Western Australia has an online sex register but access has several tiers of restrictions.

It is not yet clear how approximate the location information for the NT register will be. Mr Elferink said the website would include the “regional whereabouts”.

We truly hope that the introduction of Daniel’s Law will prevent another family going through the pain and grief we experienced following Daniel’s death.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe

“We’ll list them by geographical region reasonably close to where [people] live. It is not a system of exact addresses,” he said.

“They will be able to see who the sexual predators are in the community. They’ll be able to recognise the sexual predators and protect their children.

“We believe that the public’s right to know takes precedence over the privacy concerns for serious sex offenders.

“The initiative will allow individuals and families to familiarise themselves with important details and be more vigilant about named serious sex offenders living in and around the area.”

Daniel’s Law modelled on Megan’s Law in US

The NT chose to pursue its own legislation after a proposed national sex offenders register was knocked back at the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, according to Mr Elferink.

“From our perspective if it’s not done at a Commonwealth level then we’re going to do it in the NT and proudly so,” he said.

“Does a government make this information available or not? The answer from the NT is ‘yes, yes we do’.

“There is no guarantee a website would have protected Daniel. We know we should pull out all stops as a society and as a community to create for parents an environment to protect their children.”

He said the NT system would be modelled on Megan’s Law in the United States – the informal name for sex offender registration and community notification laws, which have been passed at US federal and state levels.

However, unlike Megan’s Law, Daniel’s Law will not list offenders’ exact address.

The Attorney-General said the Government had not yet decided on the definition of “serious sex offender”.

“We’ll create a definition which is appropriate and then have further flexible arrangements to make sure the right people are placed on our serious sex offenders website.”

He said parents were in a better position to protect their child when they were armed with detailed information.

“While the Northern Territory Police will continue to track and monitor around 200 sex offenders in the community, this tool is designed to deliver information to the community about the most serious offenders in an easy, user-friendly way,” he said.

‘You’d hate to be the last state to have a register’

Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe, who have been calling for the introduction of a national child sex offender register, said they hoped the NT register would spread across the country.

“Of course sometimes one can imagine the paedophiles and the predators on the NT sex offenders register may well not want to be in the NT any longer,” Mr Morcombe said.

“They may migrate to other states and territories.

“You’d hate to be the last state to have a sex offenders register up and running. You’re going to get truckloads of people you don’t want in your state.”

The couple, who were in Darwin for the announcement, said they commended the NT’s decision.

“The NT has taken a leadership step,” Mr Morcombe said. “They were the first to do so.

“This is for ordinary Australians. It is to get the good people at arms length from the predators.

“We want protection for our kids.

“Daniel’s Law we are confident will assist in the mission to make sure kids of Australia are safe.

“We think it is breathtakingly simple but at the end of the day will make a massive difference for children right around the country.

“I am sure the feedback from that will migrate to other states and they’ll say, ‘Why not us?'”

Daniel disappeared when he was 13 while waiting for a bus at Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in 2003.

His remains were found in bushland eight years later.

His convicted killer, Brett Peter Cowan, had a long history of sexually abusing children.

He had been arrested and sentenced in 1989 for two years in jail after molesting a boy in a public toilets.

Four years later, while living in a caravan park in Darwin, Cowan attacked a six-year-old boy. He later pleaded guilty to gross indecency, grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty.

He was sentenced to seven years’ jail and released on parole four years later.

‘Terrible idea will turn people into vigilantes’

Public online sex registers make it harder for offenders to rehabilitate, increase the chance they will re-offend, and do not make anyone safer, according to NT Criminal Lawyers Association president Russell Goldflam.

He said the NT Government’s proposal was “terrible”.

From our perspective if it’s not done at a Commonwealth level then we’re going to do it in the NT and proudly so. Does a government make this information available or not? The answer from the NT is ‘yes, yes we do’.

John Elferink, NT Attorney-General

“Laws like this have been tried in the US, mainly over the last couple of decades,” he said. “They don’t result in anyone being safer or the level of recidivism being decreased.

“There are some real costs. They are expensive to run but more importantly is they can get in the way of people being rehabilitated.

“This can result in people going underground instead of engaging with those who can assist them to stop reoffending

“In a place like the the NT we expect anyone who is going to be put on the register will leave the NT and go somewhere else. That doesn’t help anybody. It just makes it harder to keep track of them.”

He said the system would further stigmatise, prejudice and stereotype convicted sex offenders.

“A very significant range of laws operate to protect the community from people who may be at risk of reoffending,” he said. “There is already a register, already a provision for for identifying offenders, already laws to detain serious repeat sex offenders.

“Where these laws have been passed in the US – and they have in some places included exact places where people live – vigilantes have murdered people on the list or people they believe are on the list, even if they weren’t child sex offenders.

“The Attorney-General says this will make people be more vigilant.

“Our concern is this will make more people into vigilantes.”

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5 thoughts on “Northern Territory to launch online public sex offender register-Please follow suit

  1. Hi do you have an update on Michael Issakiddis tax evasion Gold Coast

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  2. Mako is a sex offenders register free to the public it was founded in 1997 I didnt notice until after reading the latest that N.T was never included. I found the site to be extremely informative and up to date.There will be many more that are not on there it would be impossible to track all of them but it is horrifying how many are out there. Its got to be up to parents to be vigilant at all times. The parole board and whoever else gave the go ahead have blood on their hands and always will for releasing a child rapist Im talking about that filthy ugly cretin Cowen what a faceless group of useless failures scrap the parole board its not working and has failed the innocent public endless times in many states of Australia. My expectations of the safety of this country has dissapointed me no end its feeble and weak and the powers that be are in a position to correct this flaw but still not much action.Sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated and by having a sex offenders register does not by any means interfere in their chances of changing what rot. This is Australia not the US they have their own laws. Mako is free to the public for christ sake there are just wankers out there that go against the grain every time.How annoying are they if you dont want to help bury your head. Shut the hell up.

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  3. NT has taken a HUGE step in the right direction. I am also glad that Daniel’s Law is getting the media attention it deserves.

    Now all they need in the NT is something with the teeth and claws of ARGOS as well. The amount of vile Internet predators of children up there in communities would shock the average person. And I am not talking about our indigenous people – I am talking about the faecal stains that are attracted to places like that in order to “hide” away and go there, ostensibly to work.

    Actually, I truly don’t know why we should bother to have an offenders list anywhere. The recidivism for this crime is ridiculous and jail does NOT rehabilitate them. Solution: Local abattoirs and an air driven bolt to the head. Have lime pit prepared. Put carcass in it. No more problem.

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  4. I couldnt agree with you more Ozlioness, instead our taxpaying dollars are spent on housing these filthy freaks and providing 3 meals a day what a way to hang up the boots and kick back after a sordid life of destroying childrens lives for their own sexual pleasure that Cowen cretin is being protected behind the doors not bars of a correctional centre not a prison lm sure hes resigned to the fact an appeal is not a wise move not only would he not have a hope in hell of seeing freedom if he got out there would be plenty of people waiting for him to take him on a merry ride with great pleasure whisked away for some fun and games and the ride would end at the gates of hell vigilante groups bring it on.

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