SA to abolish church confession exemption

Kathryn Bermingham

South Australia will become the first state to legally compel clergy to report child sexual abuse, as Attorney-General Vickie Chapman urges others to follow suit.

Under new laws set to take effect in October, priests who hear confessions about child abuse will have a mandatory obligation to report the matter to police.

The state will become the first to adopt a royal commission recommendation that priests be legally obliged to report child abuse revealed in confession.

The new crime will carry a maximum $10,000 fine and will also apply to social workers, teachers, medical professionals and others in positions of authority.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said on Wednesday all states and territories will be urged to adopt similar law reform as part of the national response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman urged other states to take similar steps.

"These are state-based responsibilities, law and order are state-based jurisdictions," she told reporters on Thursday.

"We worked with the former government (after) our royal commissions, both Nyland and Mullighan, to deal with this issue and took note when we received the interim reports of the national royal commission."

Ms Chapman said the state government was responsible for 104 of a total 189 recommendations of the royal commission.

Of the 104, 66 were accepted, one rejected and a further 37 were still being considered.

"It's critical that the terrible legacy of child sexual abuse is addressed with a comprehensive suite of policies at both the federal and state level," Ms Chapman said.