In the 2021-2022 financial year, the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE)’s Child Protection Triage Unit received more than 36,000 reports of online child sexual exploitation, a 70% increase from the previous year. Each of these reports involves materials showing children being abused or exploited.
In the same period the Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged a total of 221 offenders with 1746 child exploitation-related offences. 79 children were effectively removed from harm.
The growth and evolution of the Internet has delivered significant benefits to our society in many ways. But with rapidly changing online capabilities, it has become a powerful device for criminals seeking to harm children. The anonymity and accessibility of the Internet makes it an easily accessible tool for the production, distribution and consumption of child sexual exploitation materials.
Finding offenders is increasingly difficult in the age of end-to-end encryption and requirements around the protection of privacy. Understanding and reducing this crime is complex, and it requires the knowledge and experience of various industry partners, including the financial services industry, government agencies, law enforcement authorities, technology organisations, and not-for-profits.
This is why ICMEC Australia’s response to the issue is based on data and tech-driven solutions.