WA religious ministers must report abuse

Ministers of religion in Western Australia are now legally required to report child sexual abuse, including information from confessions, under new laws now in force.

Failure to make a mandatory report is now an offence with a maximum penalty of $6000.

A minister of religion will not be excused from criminal responsibility even if their belief is based on information disclosed during a religious confession.

"This government is sending a clear message that nobody is above the law, including ministers of religion," Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk said.

"For far too long abusers have been able to hide behind religion.

"It's a shameful hypocrisy that compounds the trauma for victims and enables perpetrators to go on to abuse more children."

The new laws deliver on recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The changes also extend mandatory reporting requirements to early childhood, out-of-home care and youth justice workers, as well as registered psychologists and school counsellors.

The mandatory reporting laws are being implemented through a staggered approach so the groups receive support to undertake their new responsibilities.

Ministers of religion are the first group to come into effect, with other groups to be included in the new provisions in the next three years.