Legislative Council: Wednesday, July 03, 2019


Deboo, Mr V.F.

The Hon. T.J. STEPHENS (15:47): As some of you may remember, I moved a motion last year regarding the importance of National Child Protection Week. On that occasion, I took the opportunity to highlight some of the absolutely harrowing figures relating to Australian children who have suffered abuse, neglect, child maltreatment or some other harm at the hands of those who should have protected them. I rise today to speak to the judgement handed down by the Court of Criminal Appeal on Monday in relation to the sentencing of convicted paedophile, Vivian Frederick Deboo.

For those who may not remember, Mr Deboo last year pleaded guilty to six counts of offence of a sexual nature committed against two boys aged 13 and 11. This followed an earlier conviction in 1996, where Mr Deboo was found guilty of nine counts of indecent assault and one count of unlawful sexual intercourse against three other young men. The despicable and unforgivable crimes committed by this man have imposed on his victims a life sentence in which they will carry with them the weight of these horrific actions for the rest of their lives.

On 4 December last year, Deboo was sentenced to a total of six years, seven months and six days imprisonment for offences against the two brothers, now known as A and B. Compared to the lifetime of grief and suffering the brothers are faced with, Deboo considered his sentence 'manifestly excessive'. In addition to this, he filed an appeal to serve out his sentence on home detention, claiming that due to his 'advanced age' and 'self reports of diminished libido and sexual interest' he no longer posed an appreciable risk to the safety of the community. Fortunately, the Court of Appeal did not agree and his appeal was dismissed on Monday, earlier this week.

I commend the Court of Appeal's decision to dismiss Mr Deboo's appeal and his outrageous attempts to evade the punishment imposed upon him. Child abuse and crimes committed by paedophiles such as Deboo have a lifelong traumatic impact on victims, affecting their ongoing mental wellbeing. In some tragic cases, child abuse leads to victims taking their own lives.

If there is a silver lining or one positive outcome to result from the years of offending by this man, it is the gracious and courageous response of both brother A and B following Deboo's sentencing. The two men are now using this terrible experience to raise awareness about child sexual abuse on a national level.

There are approximately 1.4 million Australians suffering from the abuse of paedophiles—that is 1.4 million, out of a population of only 25 million. Those numbers alone are staggering. In recognition of these alarming statistics and in the lead-up to the appeal decision, the brothers set up a 'field of innocence' on Montefiore Hill. Along with their family, the brothers created 1,400 paper cut-outs of boys and girls to represent the 1.4 million Australian survivors. As stated in The Advertiser on Monday 1 July, brother B said the aim of their efforts is that they hope all members of the community 'don't walk past child abuse'.

With 1.4 million Australians suffering from abuse, the brothers believe the issue should be a top public health priority, and I agree. All victims are left forever changed by their abusers, many suffering extensive mental health issues. The damage this can have on not just the abused individual but those around them is immense. As such, mental health issues which can arise from abuse are not bound to the victims alone. The toll of these crimes can wreak havoc on entire families and communities.

Both of these men are valued members of our community and of course are now parents themselves. Their goal now is to raise awareness in an effort to prevent any child from being exposed to such abuse within Australia into the future. I fully support brothers A and B, commend them for their efforts and applaud their courageous behaviours and their efforts to make sure that our community understands that this disgraceful behaviour that has happened in the past, and still, sadly, happens today, should never be tolerated and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.