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Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP

Thank you, Acting Deputy Commissioner Operations, for your warm welcome and introduction.

I’m here today at the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation – the ACCCE – to recognise National Child Protection Week and be part of the campaign to break the silence around child sexual abuse on Bravehearts Day.

It is an honour to be joined by so many leaders from within our community dedicated to keeping children safe from harm.

Children are the most precious and vulnerable members of our community. The Government is committed to building on the vital work already underway in partnership with industry and the non-government sector to protect children from sexual abuse.

Raising awareness and educating the community is central to protecting children from harm and the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021‑2030 recognises this.

The National Strategy provides a holistic approach to tackling child sexual abuse and a framework for preventing and responding to abuse in all settings, including the online environment.

Today I announced the appointment of the non‑government Advisory Group who will support delivery of the National Strategy. I know there are members of that group in attendance today, and so I want to thank you personally, for the contributions you make through that group as well as through your ongoing advocacy and support.

The Government, led by our National Office for Child Safety, is developing a national campaign to raise awareness and encourage community action on child sexual abuse. Key to this campaign is educating our society to recognise and respond to warning signs and encouraging access to vital help and support.

The Government recognises that the protection of our children is not something it can achieve alone. We need strong partnerships with industry leaders and the community sector to tackle this insidious criminal behaviour.

The ACCCE is at the forefront of combatting child exploitation in Australia and coordinates national efforts to uncover and locate those who engage in all forms of child exploitation and abuse.

Working in collaboration with national and international cross-sector partners, the ACCCE strives towards a world free from child sexual exploitation.

Through strong partnerships, the ACCCE and the AFP have achieved significant operational results.

The ThinkUKnow Program, delivered in partnership with State and Territory Police and industry partners, provides education resources for parents, carers and teachers, children and young people to prevent online child sexual exploitation.

The Stop the Stigma campaign, launched in 2021, in partnership with leading Non-Government Organisations and Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, has kick-started a national conversation about child sexual abuse.

And on the operational side, Operation Arkstone, is an example of the rigorous and proactive approach Australian law enforcement agencies are taking in tracking and prosecuting offenders. To date, Operation Arkstone has resulted in 828 charges laid in Australia and the identification of 46 victims.

The common theme in these success stories – strong partnerships.  These partnerships have leveraged the capabilities from law enforcement, the public sector, private industry, as well as civil society, to drive a collaborative national approach to counter online child exploitation.

Your presence here today highlights the strengths of these partnerships.

And while we have continued to see significant results, there is more to be done to protect children. 

The borderless crime of child sexual exploitation is difficult to tackle and means our children can be targeted anywhere and at any time. 

It is critical that we continue to partner together to educate, prevent, respond and disrupt those who seek to harm our children.

I thank you for your ongoing dedication, support and commitment – Now, more than ever, we need to do all we can to prevent this crime.