Religious leaders in Western Australia will be compelled to reveal knowledge of child sexual abuse, but the Catholic church is resisting the inclusion of secrets gained through the confessional.
The WA Labor government plans to expand mandatory reporting laws to include all recognised religious leaders who are authorised to conduct worship, services and ceremonies.
This includes priests, ministers, imams, rabbis, pastors and Salvation Army officers.
The laws already apply to doctors, teachers, nurses, midwives, police and school boarding supervisors.
Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said Perth's Catholic Archbishop Timothy Costelloe had contacted the state government saying he was concerned about child sexual abuse and understood it was an urgent issue, "but urged us not to change the laws".
"I understand that's the Catholic church's position. However, as a government, we have an obligation to put in place laws and to implement laws to make sure children in our communities are safe," Ms McGurk told reporters on Thursday.
Archbishop Costelloe made the plea when the WA government issued its reaction to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in June.
The changes would deliver an important recommendation from the WA response to the inquiry, Ms McGurk said.
"It will apply to any information gained through the course of their work, whether it's in paid time or unpaid time, and it's any suspicion that they receive," she said.
"It might be from abuse being perpetrated by members of the public, members of their congregation for instance, or by other religious clergy."
Those convicted under WA's mandatory reporting laws face a maximum fine of $6000 and will likely be banned from working with children, Ms McGurk said.
Two former teachers are currently before the courts and are the first in WA to be charged with failing to report.
The WA opposition says the changes do not go far enough and should include lay preachers and volunteers of religious organisations.
The ACT has gone further, making it a crime for any adult not to report suspected child sexual abuse.
South Australia and the Northern Territory require religious leaders to report abuse, a similar proposal is before the Tasmanian parliament and Victoria has pledged to follow suit but only as part of national action.
Comment was sought from Archbishop Costelloe on Thursday.
Last year, he said that under canon law, priests faced excommunication for breaking the seal of the confessional, and child abusers would not go to confession if the law was changed.
The amendment will be introduced to parliament later this year.