Thursday, 18 March 2021
Child Sexual Abuse
The Australian Federal Police and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation have launched a new initiative called 'Stop Child Abuse -Trace an Object'. Trace an Object calls on the public to help investigators with cold cases. They've released non-confrontational images, taken out of the background of child sexual abuse material, hoping that any member of the public might be able to recognise these objects. They include really simple images of things like a hat, a curtain or even a bedspread. People may have seen or worn these objects in their local areas; they might know the origins of an object or where it can be bought. Any clue, no matter how small, will assist to piece together information. You never know, it could help rescue a child from great harm and lead to the arrest of an offender. Just go online and have a look at these images on the ACCCE website.
Stop Child Abuse -Trace an Object is similar to an initiative run by Europol that led to the removal of 10 innocent children from harm. The production of child sexual abuse material is getting worse and it is on an industrial scale. In the early to mid-2000s, a child sex offender usually had around 1,000 images. That's now estimated to be between 10,000 and 80,000 images and videos. This is facilitated by online platforms, as we all know. In 2020, the AFP charged 191 people with 1,847 alleged child abuse related offences and removed 89 children from harm. I congratulate and thank them for that and for the work that goes in behind the scenes—and what that does to these people looking at this material. I want to thank them for that.
The Trace an Object initiative follows the introduction of the Online Safety Bill into parliament last month, which will better protect Australians from harm online by setting out a modern regulatory framework strengthening the powers of the eSafety Commissioner to counteract cyberbullying, toxic online abuse, harmful content and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. It includes a world-first cyber-abuse scheme for adults that will assist victims of seriously harmful online abuse to have the material removed when online platforms fail to act. As members know, I spend a lot of time in my community talking to students and parents about staying safe online. I encourage everyone to have a look at this site.