BY RACHEL CARY
Proposed changes to the Children and Community Services Act 2005 which will affect body piercing practices for under 18s have been labelled as “draconian”.
The Children and Community Services Amendment Bill 2010 proposes that anyone who pierces a child under the age of 18 without parental consent will risk a $12,000 fine and one-year imprisonment.
If someone is convicted of piercing an ‘intimate’ area of an under-age person the fine is $18,000.
Perth-based Primal Urge Piercing owner Bob Anderson said the proposed amendments were ridiculous.
“The penalties are draconian,” Mr Anderson said.
“A person who takes a life will go to jail for less time and pay less in fines than I will for doing something someone has requested me to do.
“We don’t go and drag people off the streets and force them to get a piercing, they ask us.”
Alfred Cove independent Member of Parliament Janet Woollard proposed the amendment saying there are currently no restrictions on body piercing.
“Unlike other states that have a legal restriction on body piercing, particularly restrictions on body piercing in genital areas, there is no legal restriction in Western Australia,” she said.
“We need to protect our children from these piercings, not so much from the immediate consequences, but the long-term consequences of these piercings.”
Dr Woollard said parental consent should be mandatory so parents were involved and aware of the risks.
“People can get septicaemia, they can get AIDS,” she said.
Primitive Tattoo owner and professional body piercer Marc Pinto said he agreed with Dr Woollard saying the regulations were overdue.
“It should have been done earlier,” he said.
“We are professionals and we’ve got a strict policy with age anyway and that’s why we can agree to this so easily.
“You have some people that oppose it but all around the world most of the professional shops would agree to it easily straight away.”
Mr Anderson said placing tighter restrictions on a previously accessible practice would drive it underground and Dr Woollard would create the things she was worried about.
“Dr Woollard is saying that if I pierce an intimate part of the body the penalty is higher,” Mr Anderson said.
“Intimacy is in the eye of the beholder. We make them functional because we choose to, this doesn’t make them intimate.”
The amendment says intimate piercings refer to a person’s genitals, anal area, perineum and nipples, and states no one may pierce these parts regardless of parental consent.
Mr Anderson said most clients were under 18 years and all of them disagree with the proposal.
Mr Pinto said he thought it was impossible to know if the proposal would or would not force piercers underground but said any bill was better than no bill.
The amendment was first proposed by Dr Woollard in 2007 and was supported by both sides of the Lower House, but was not carried forward due to the federal election being called.
Dr Woollard said the amendments went through unopposed in the Lower House and she hopes the amendment will be fully supported in the Upper House.
“For a bill going from our House to the Upper House, sometimes it could be a matter of weeks, sometimes a matter of months, it really depends on the government’s priorities,” she said.
Published in the Western Independent October 2010