Why collaborative focus on opportunities for change is key in disrupting OSEC
As a relatively new organisation in Australia, with a passionate team bringing expertise from a variety of backgrounds, finding ways that our people can connect fully to our cause and mission is paramount.
The Youth, Technology and Virtual Communities (YTVC) conference run by Queensland Police Service’s Task Force Argos on the Gold Coast in April was the perfect opportunity for us to learn more about how our stakeholders are approaching the challenges they face. As a sponsor of the conference, several of our team were able to join 500 other delegates in learning the latest trends and insights from the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) response community, immersing themselves in this difficult but vital subject.
Being surrounded by some of the world’s leading experts in CSE was certainly a valuable and eye-opening education for the team. And one of the great benefits in attending the conference was the opportunity to connect with some of our key sector stakeholders in person, many for the first time.
The three-day event was fast-paced and packed with insightful and informative sessions. The team heard about in-depth case studies that revealed the lengths perpetrators will go to access children and avoid detection, as well as the commitment, out-of-the-box thinking, and skill of the law enforcement officers on their trail. Alongside these case studies were presentations on innovative initiatives and programs to help prevent child sexual abuse, as well as several recent research studies into perpetrator behaviour.
Each of the presenters were concerned with how we disrupt the conditions that make child sexual abuse facilitated online possible. And for many of the presenters their focus was on shifting the intervention point to disrupting the crime before it takes place.
The Reverend Desmond Tutu is often acknowledged for his quote: “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” This sentiment was certainly shared in many of the presentations at YTVC.
The one recurring theme in almost all the presentations was that we can’t tackle this problem alone. Whether it’s law enforcement collaborating across borders to identify and catch perpetrators, LEAs working with financial institutions and the private sector to develop new technological innovations, or academics and regulators collaborating on research data to provide important insights and risk indicators, the key focus was on how much greater the outcomes are when we pool our resources and knowledge to tackle the issue from a multitude of angles.
Which is precisely our purpose as an organisation, to support and facilitate those organisations working to detect, report and prosecute this crime. And to offer our assistance to those organisations who are working upstream towards preventing the crime from occurring in the first place.
Sharing our collaborative experience with some of our stakeholders in our panel session at the event and seeing this theme echoed throughout the conference was both inspiring and affirming for the team.
The internet has revolutionised many aspects of life, including the exponential growth of CSE. Despite this, YTVC demonstrated that so many different organisations and industries within the sector are willing to do what it takes to help end child sexual exploitation.
With the magnitude of this problem, it would be easy to become discouraged. But, as was the message from many conference presenters, focusing on the opportunities for change and maintaining a victim-centric approach to our work helps to keep people in the game and save children from abuse and exploitation.
After all, this is why we’re all here.