Wednesday, 17 February 2021
There is no more important moral duty that we have as parents, as a community and as a nation than the need to keep our children safe. Protecting them from online abuse is critical, especially when you consider that by the time children are four years old about 94 per cent of them will have a device that is connected to the internet.
Recently I attended the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Combatting Child Exploitation in Australia and the ACCCE, which was a wonderful and insightful event. At the launch we heard directly from senior Australian Federal Police officers about the work that they do 24 hours a day to keep our kids safe. The AFP do a truly amazing job. Between July 2019 and June 2020 they rescued 134 children from harm. In the past 12 months alone, the AFP also intercepted more than 250,000 child abuse files. Think of the scale of that figure: 250,000 files. This work inflicts an enormous human toll, but the resilience and strength demonstrated by the AFP while they do this confronting work is something I have always admired. In attending this launch, I have to say how special it was to see many MPs from all sides of politics join together to show how much this parliament values the AFP's work in investigating and tracking the disgusting perpetrators of child abuse.
However, the AFP can't tackle this problem alone. Every parent has a responsibility to equip themselves with the basic awareness. They need to ensure that their kids are safe wherever they go online. Thankfully, there's a huge array of resources out there to help. The AFP's ThinkUKnow program is brilliant. I can't recommend it highly enough. It consists of three central pillars: firstly, what young people see online. This is about how to address online grooming, sexting and inappropriate content. Secondly is what young people say online. This involves what parents can do to help young people understand their interactions online. And, finally, it's what young people do online. This includes how they can manage their digital shadow, including having strong privacy settings. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner also has a terrific range of really helpful advice and material.
On a final note, I just want to commend the ongoing work of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, which was opened in October last year by the Minister for Home Affairs. Our government provided the AFP with more than $68 million to establish this centre and it has already been successful in working closely with the public and private sectors in our communities to bring all Australians together to eliminate the horror of child abuse. After all, keeping our kids safe is a responsibility of every one of us. Thank you.