DOUBTFUL: Phoenix House director Kathy Prentice says a registry may not be the preventative answer.
DOUBTFUL: Phoenix House director Kathy Prentice says a registry may not be the preventative answer. Max Fleet BUNPHO

More than 120 sex offenders living in region

A PAEDOPHILE registry may not be the answer to stop sexual predators preying on their young victims, according to a women's domestic and sexual violence support service.

The push for the naming and shaming of pedophiles has garnered masses of support since convicted child killer Brett Peter Cowan was jailed for 20 years for the murder and indecent dealing of Sunshine Coast teenager, Daniel Morcombe.

Following the sentencing, Daniel's mum, Denise, called for a public registry in the hope it would save other children from the same tragic fate that befell her son.

But Phoenix House director Kathy Prentice said a registry may not be the preventative answer.

"It might make us all feel safer but they haven't been shown to work effectively," she said.

Research carried out in the United States and the United Kingdom suggests registries aren't the sole answer.

The Washington State Institute for Public Policy conducted the first outcome study examining the effects of community notification.

"Re-arrests of 90 sex offenders who received the highest level of notification were compared with 90 matched sex offenders who were released prior to the enactment of the law and, thus, were not eligible for community notification," the research said.

"Although at the end of a 54-month period there was no significant difference in re-arrest rates between the two groups, the researchers determined (from survival curves) that sex offenders who were subject to community notification requirements were re-arrested more quickly than those not subject to notification."

Ms Prentice said sex offender registries had the potential to increase offending for two reasons - the first being those placed on the registry may feel like they have nothing to lose by reoffending.

"Also, if you place a lot of stress on people, which putting them on a registry would do, it's actually making them more likely to behave in ways that include offending behaviours," she said.

"Registration has detrimental impacts on families of people who are on registers - research has shown they experience high levels of social isolation, fear, shame, property damage, and forced residential relocation."

She said sexual violence had to be addressed across the spectrum of individual, community and societal levels, to include counselling for men before a sexual assault occurred, sexual violence awareness and prevention education programs for the community and addressing the issues of unemployment and poverty.

"I'm not saying poverty is the cause of sexual violence but it's certainly a factor in people unable to lead healthy lives," she said.

Bundaberg Offenders

There are reportedly more than 120 registered sex offenders living in the Bundaberg region.



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