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Australia's sex offender register would be called 'Daniel's law'. But here's the problem.

Last week, the government announced in its federal budget that it would allocate $7 million to go towards a sex offenders list in Australia.

America already has one. It’s called Megan’s law.

Seven-year-old Megan Kanka was lured into her neighbours house in 1994 where she was raped and murdered.

The register can be downloaded in app form, and allows residents to drop a pin and see who in the vicinity is a convicted sex offender.

The Quicky episode on the sex offender’s register can be listened to below. Post continues after podcast.

Within 5km of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there are 77 registered sex offenders.

In Australia, it would be called Daniel’s Law.

Daniel Morcombe was abducted from a Sunshine Coast bus stop in 2003 when he was 13. In 2014, convicted sex offender Brett Peter Cowan was charged with his murder.

Daniel’s parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe think a register will help educate parents and carers about keeping children safe.

It wouldn’t have helped their Daniel, his murderer lived several suburbs away, but Bruce told The Quicky it’s about bringing in a big enough deterrent to stop would-be offenders.

“Somebody that is on the register will not want to offend again, because they are known to be already up in lights, and somebody that hasn’t been found guilty before, they may well have offended before, but if they haven’t in the courts been found guilty – they won’t be on this register,” he told host Claire Murphy.

Brett Peter Cowan Daniel Morcombe
Brett Peter Cowan (left) murdered 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe (right).He was charged in 2014 after the little boy went missing in 2003. Image: Getty.
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"Somebody like that -  a clean skin, they don't want to be on the register. So hence, they're not going to offend, they'll think twice before doing those horrendous crimes against children," said Bruce.

The Morcombes are adamant, it's not about scaring families, it's about educating them.

"Let's have a look and see who lives in our general vicinity. It's not about saying at number 7 there's a terrible person and this is the material he looked at. It's not about scaring - it's about the real world. This is where we live. This is here, in our neighbourhood. I think it'll be a wake-up call," Bruce explained.

The Morcombes think the short term prison sentences and 'slaps on the wrist' just aren't enough. They want there to be lifelong implications and for sexual offenders to be held accountable for their actions.

"What's wrong with that? We must all obey the rules.

"You must not rape kids, that's not what we do in modern Australia. If you go on that path, you'll be exposed forever and a day," Bruce told The Quicky.

Bruce thinks in particular, it will help single mums dabbling in dating to weed out any criminals from getting close to their kids.

He also stresses it's not for lovesick teenagers who "did something a bit risky."

There will also be some offenders that will be exempt, for example in smaller towns if revealing an offender identifies a victim, they won't be included on the register.

Morcombes
The register will be named after Bruce and Denise's son Daniel. Image: Getty.
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Criminologist and lecturer at the University of Melbourne Dr Karen Gelb, however, doesn't think it's a good idea, in any form.

"All the research shows it does very little, if anything at all, to help prevent sexual offences against children. It's a very appealing policy, but it doesn't have an impact on reducing re-offending," she told The Quicky.

Dr Gelb says in the US, it has been shown to have a very negative effect on reintegration and rehabilitation of those who have served their time.

"Allowing the public access to information about offenders hinders their efforts to live in the community - to find housing, get a job, and be an active member of society. It's very difficult when your neighbours know your background, and it then increases the risk of re-offending," she explained.

Dr Gelb also points out that re-offending rates for sexual offenders is actually really low - the lowest of any type of offender.

"We know from the evidence people are much more likely to be victimised in a sexual offence by someone they know. A family member, a colleague, a friend, that's where the real threat lies, not in stranger danger," she said.

In a worst case scenario, this register will encourage vigilantism.

In the UK, someone was murdered in such an instance - and he'd been incorrectly identified by the community lynch mob.

"We know from decades of criminal theory, if someone is ostracised from society it makes it hard for them to be law abiding productive members of society," concluded Dr Gelb.

Bruce Morcombe however thinks it'll do more good than harm.

"Bottom line is it will expose a lot of people, and that's a good thing," he told The Quicky.

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