Hinch's Jail 2 Justice walk hits its stride in Ballarat

Broadcaster Derryn Hinch arrives in Ballarat as part of his walk from Langi Kal Kal prison to Victoria's Parliament House. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK
Broadcaster Derryn Hinch arrives in Ballarat as part of his walk from Langi Kal Kal prison to Victoria's Parliament House. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

ANTI paedophile crusader and former Langi Kal Kal Prison inmate Derryn Hinch reached the first major milestone of his Jail 2 Justice walk to Victoria's Parliament House on Sunday.

The 70-year-old journalist, who completed a 50-day sentence at the western Victorian jail this year, arrived in Ballarat on his 160km personal protest march to Melbourne.

With him were scores of supporters aiming to collect 100,000 signatures for a petition demanding a national public register of convicted sex offenders. 

Hinch said the existing police register, which was not accessible to the public, was inadequate to protect the wider community. 

The supporters walking with Hinch including John Siermans, whose daughter Sharon was bashed to death. Mr Siermans walked with his grandson Aron who he is raising with wife Denise. 

Others pulled over in their cars to offer their support.

Mr Hinch said grass roots protests like the Jail 2 Justice walk were not a waste of time, with similar campaigns achieving results in the past.

"In my past 30 years as a crusading journalist I've had three laws changed," Mr Hinch said.

"The lifting of suppression orders, which were given out like confetti, especially by the County Court, that law is going through parliament now and will be lifted. I have been guaranteed that by the Attorney General Robert Clark.

"To get that I had a rally on the steps of Parliament House in 2008. I named two of the worst offenders there and for that I spent five months under house arrest, but that law is now going to be changed.

"There is a law about rape in marriage, where a judge ruled a man could not be charged for raping his estranged wife under a 300-year-old British law. I went ape over that and that law is now gone.

"And back in 1979, 1980 and 1981, for four years I campaigned against the electronic media blackout on elections. It took four years but that doesn't exist anymore. So it can take a hell of a long time. It won't happen overnight but it will happen."

Mr Hinch said community outrage had already seen the parole board toughen up its stance on dangerous offenders.

"I'm confident because I've rarely seen rage maintained like this (campaign)," he said.

"I think it is partly since the Jill Meagher murder, and since the Daniel Morcombe case. The family fought for 10 years for an inquest and to get some resolution and it came out the man who killed Daniel Morcombe should never have been released from jail after he kidnapped a kid from a caravan park and left him for dead.

"Things are changing. The parole board is getting tougher. When I was in Langi Kal Kal the main issue of conversation was parole. People are not getting early parole anymore."

Mr Hinch was arrested and jailed in January for failing to pay a $100,000 fine for contempt of court, after breaching a suppression order relating to Adrian Bayley, the man who later pleaded guilty of the rape and murder of Jill Meagher.

He spent time at Melbourne Assessment Prison, adjacent to where Bayley had been held, before being transferred to Langi Kal Kal.

"By the time we get to that last leg from Brunswick to the city, you are going to be surprised by how many people have come along," Mr Hinch said.

"Daniel Morcombe's mum and dad are coming, Sarah Cafferkey's mum from Bacchus Marsh, Rosey Batty whose son Luke was killed after they messed up the AVOs, Shirley and Allan Irwin whose daughters were murdered by a rapist on parole, and George Halvagis whose daughter was stabbed to death in a cemetery while she was tending her grandmother's grave.

"All of these people will be here. It is a sweet and sour thing - I am happy to be doing it but all of these people have a story here and none of it is good."

Mr Hinch will leave Ballarat for Bungaree and Gordon on Monday.