The battle against child exploitation and abuse will be substantially boosted with the opening of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) in Brisbane today.
Abuse of children is a global epidemic that is becoming more prevalent, more organised and more extreme.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said combatting the scourge of child exploitation required new approaches.
“Establishment of the Centre reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to tackling child exploitation,” he said.
“The ACCCE will be at the centre of a collaborative national approach to combatting organised crime led by the AFP with oversight from the Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime (TSOC) Coordinator Deputy Commissioner Karl Kent.
“The ACCCE will bring together specialist expertise and skills from across the Home Affairs portfolio into a centralised hub to provide a consistent, holistic and cohesive response to exploitation and abuse.
“It will also link closely with the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams across Australia, international law enforcement agencies and the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner.
“Law enforcement agencies across Australia have been successful in disrupting, preventing and investigating instances of child exploitation, but the problem is growing.
“The Australian Federal Police alone received about 9,700 reports of child exploitation material in 2017, so far this year they have received more than 13,000 reports.”
The Centre is based on four pillars:
- To use joint resources to prevent the exploitation of children;
- To prepare future capabilities and technologies to combat exploitation and intervene earlier in the abuse of victims;
- To better support our authorities to pursue and prosecute perpetrators; and
- To protect victims from further victimisation and retrieve them from harm whilst protecting the wellbeing of members working in this crime type.
Mr Dutton said technological advances were greatly increasing the challenges for law enforcement.
“The continuing evolution of technology has only made it easier for perpetrators to contact children and share their abuse and torture through global networks,” he said.
“In today’s world any child can be targeted in their own home by an organised network of paedophiles, it is no longer enough for agencies to combat these offences in isolation.
“The Centre will help to draw the net around those seeking to harm our children,” Mr Dutton said.