The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (15:51): This bill amends the Criminal Law Consolidation Act to better assist prosecutors to establish criminal neglect. Definitions will change to better define cognitive impairment and vulnerable adults, as well as outlining that criminal neglect can occur if there is an omission of an action, such as failing to provide food, clothing and accommodation.
The bill makes amendments to stipulate that criminal neglect can occur if harm is caused to children or vulnerable adults, rather than serious harm. I understand that this is to reflect the fact that there are cases where harm is inflicted on children which would be considered serious harm to an adult. However, because children have a greater capacity to heal it is often not considered to be serious harm, notwithstanding the same action was inflicted.
There are also changes to remove the requirement that criminal neglect can only be as a result of unlawful actions. The bill will outline that criminal neglect can occur as a result of actions, whether they are lawful or not. I am supportive of this bill and believe it is important for the parliament to make changes to the law where it becomes clear that there are deficiencies.
It is important that we protect those in our community who cannot protect themselves. If there are individuals who are neglectful of children or vulnerable adults, it is important that the law is there to support prosecutions to send a message that we as a community do not support those actions and there should be punishment for this sort of behaviour. With that, I support the bill.