Sex Offenders Registration

Operating since October 2004 by Victoria Police, the Sex Offenders Register was created as a socially protective measure, providing information about sex offenders that may prevent sexual crimes. However, after a few years of operation, it seemed to many not to be optimally efficient, focussed or just.

Following a report by the Victorian Ombudsman raising such concerns about the register, the Attorney-General asked the Commission to review the relevant laws and research how information about sex offenders was used by law enforcement and child protection agencies. Initiated in April 2010, the review's main focus was to improve the efficacy of the register to protect children.

In June 2011, the Commission released an information paper describing how Victoria's sex offender registration system operated and asking how it could be improved, especially in assessing the risk of re-offending, preventing further offences and protecting children from harm. In response, 32 written submissions were received and the Commission also met with the key government agencies responsible for managing sex offenders and protecting children, including Victoria Police, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services. Other experts consulted included leading academics, forensic pathologists, forensic psychiatrists, lawyers, judges, registered offenders and their families, and victim advocates.   

The final report, tabled in Parliament on 18 April 2012, contained 79 recommendations to strengthen the registration scheme by sharpening its focus on the protection of children. The recommendations would enable police to better manage offenders posing a risk to children and provide child protection authorities with timely information about at-risk children.

The report and other documents can be downloaded from the links below.


The Sex Offenders Registration Amendment Act 2014 implements or partially implements 8 of the Commission’s 79 reform recommendations.

In summary, the recommendations were to:

  • Give the Court the power to modify reporting conditions and obligations imposed on registered offenders who are under the age of 18  (Recommendation 19; see s 5)
  • Allow the Chief Commissioner to suspend the reporting obligations of a person who is unable to comply because of physical or cognitive impairment (Recommendation 26; Note the Act allows a broader discretion in view of the risk to the sexual safety of the person or the community See s 45A).
  • Registered sex offenders should be required to report the names, ages and addresses of any children with whom they have ‘contact’ and the means of contacting those children (Recommendation 31 ; See s 6(1))
  • Clarify which ‘contact’ a registered sex offender must report (Recommendation 32; s4A and see also s 7(1)(4)-removal of reference to ‘unsupervised contact’ and s 23).
  • Provide clear legislative authority to the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Secretaries of the Department of Justice and Regulation and Department of Human Services to share information (Recommendations 55-56; See s 42B and s 42C)
  • Allow information about a registered offender to be given to a parent or carer to protect a particular child (Recommendation 57-59). The Act empowers the Secretary of DHS or an ‘authorised person’ to disclose information ‘to any other person’ if disclosure is ‘in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of the child referred to in the information’ (s 42D). Disclosure is not restricted to a guardian but the information has to concern an identified child.)


The Commission’s recommendation on discretionary (instead of automatic) registration was endorsed by the Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform Committee in its report Inquiry into Sexting, tabled in May 2013. That report recommended introducing a defence to certain sex offences and a more targeted offence aimed at prohibiting the distributing of intimate images without consent. In the alternative, the report endorsed the Commission’s recommendation that sex offender registration be discretionary only, to prevent inappropriate registration, particularly of young people.

In September 2014 the Victorian Parliament passed amendments to the Crimes Act 1958 and the Summary Offences Act 1966 that change the law about sexting. The laws create two new offences of ‘distribution of an intimate image’ and ‘threat to distribute an intimate image’. The new laws also introduce certain exceptions to child pornography offences so that young people under 18 years of age are not inappropriately prosecuted or added to the sex offenders register for consensual non-exploitative sexting.


Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Final report
Tabled in parliament
View full timeline

Project Publications

Sex Offenders Registration: final report (html version)

Tabled in Victorian parliament on 18 April 2012, the Commission's report on its review of the registration of sex offenders under the Sex Offenders...

Read more here

Sex Offenders Registration: Report (pdf)

Tabled in Victorian Parliament on 18 April 2012, the Commission's report on its review of the registration of sex offenders under the Sex Offenders...

Read more here

Sex Offenders Registration: Received Submissions

The Commission received 29 submissions in response to the Sex Offenders Registration: Information paper. All public submissions are placed on this...

Read more here

Sex Offenders Registration: Information Paper

Published in June 2011, the Commission's Sex Offenders Registration: Information Paper describes the operation of the Victorian sex offender...

Read more here

Main menu

Back to top