Should Criminals like Adrian Bayley be allowed to change names?


Should Criminals like Adrian Bayley be allowed to change names?

MELBOURNE, June 2013

It seems the done thing by hardened criminals; change names and slip quietly back into society. By changing names, criminals have the opportunity to get their life back on track as they can disassociate with their criminal history, rebuild their confidence, and, in Adrian Bayley’s case, wait for the next opportune moment. Luckily for them, name changes are inconsistently managed at a state level with enough loopholes to allow Adrian Edwards to become Adrian Ernest Bayley. Although he changed names in 2001, with enough planning any criminal is able to change names in Australia.

Name change is managed by state Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) registries and there is only one consistent police check. If a name appears on the child protection registry, then the application is flagged. There’s no national approach for serious offenders, such as murderers and rapists.

In New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria criminals under the custody of Corrective Services must have approval in writing from the Chief Executive, however, there is nothing to stop a criminal from moving to Western Australia, starting a new life and changing names. The measures in place by NSW BDM and law enforcement allow for the ongoing exchange of data and serve as an excellent model for the rest of the country if only all the agencies could agree to it.

The general public believes the worst offenders, such as murderers and rapists, should be prevented from changing names, or at the very least, have their name change handled in a transparent manner. To this end, there have been years of talks between government agencies in establishing a national data exchange program. Consistency between all states is essential in preventing criminals from moving to states where their name change will be accepted with no disclosure of criminal history.

There exists no file of dangerous criminals who have legally changed names. This effectively allows criminals to wipe the slate clean, so they are free to apply for a new job or a rental property near vulnerable people with no checks in place. If name changes were banned or made public for serious criminals, a quick Google search would make you think twice about having Bilal Skaf as your gardener while your husband is away on a business trip.

While name changes are almost always undertaken for legitimate purposes, there are always the few on the fringe of society looking to escape an unwanted history. Name change expert and founder of, Genevieve Dennis, explains; ‘We’re frequently approached by people asking if their financial or criminal history is linked to their new name post-name change. I explain that name change, by law, cannot be undertaken for fraudulent purposes, and lying on the application is punishable by law.’ While this is usually a sufficient deterrent for many, those committed to a life of crime may not be so honest.


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Genevieve Dennis, Director

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