Communities and Justice

Strengthening child sexual abuse laws in NSW

The NSW Government has prepared a discussion paper that identifies issues and poses questions about possible options for child sexual abuse law reform. The paper considers the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in its Criminal Justice Report, released in August 2017, and the recommendations of the NSW Parliament's Joint Select Committee on Sentencing of Child Sexual Assault Offenders.

The purpose of the discussion paper is to examine child sexual offences in NSW to simplify the current framework, revise current offences and identify whether any new offences should be created to fill any gaps in the existing framework.

The Royal Commission made 85 recommendations to improve the criminal justice response to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse in its recent report, including recommendations for changes to child sexual abuse laws. Existing Government action in several areas is already consistent with the Royal Commission's criminal justice recommendations, including as follows:

  • The Child Sexual Offence Evidence Pilot has been operating since March 2016, to provide special support to child witnesses in child sexual assault proceedings. This action is consistent with the Royal Commission's Recommendations 52-55 and 59-60.
  • The Government has allocated $93 million over three years to implement reforms to encourage earlier guilty pleas and reduce trial delays. These reforms are consistent with the Royal Commission’s Recommendation 72.
  • The Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 was amended in August 2017 to ensure victims in proceedings for prescribed sexual offences can access a support person and other special measures when reading their victim impact statement at sentencing. This is consistent with the Royal Commission's Recommendation 78.

In response to the Joint Select Committee's recommendations, the NSW Government has already:

  • Increased the maximum penalty for the offence of sexual intercourse with a child under 10 years from 25 years to life imprisonment,
  • Introduced standard non-parole periods for a further 13 child sexual abuse offences, and
  • Established the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Pilot to reduce trauma to child sexual assault victims by enabling child victims and witnesses to have all their evidence pre-recorded early in the court case and without a jury, and to be assisted by the appointment of Children's Champions.

The NSW Government is seeking input from victims of child sexual abuse, organisations that provide services to victims, legal professionals and the community on the Royal Commission's legislative recommendations and other issues with child sexual abuse laws covered in the discussion paper.

Submissions closed on 6th October 2017 and are available for download below.

Please note that all submissions and comments will be treated as public, and may be published, unless the author indicates that it is to be treated as confidential.


Submissions were also made by the District Court of NSW and Advocate for Children and Young People. The contents have been kept confidential at the authors’ request. 

Submissions made by individuals who requested confidentiality have not been published.

Last updated: