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How Australia’s top specialists combat CSE


Child sexual exploitation (CSE) facilitated online is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world.

Reports of online child sexual exploitation to the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) have increased by more than 180 per cent since it launched in 2018.

The ACCCE’s Child Protection Triage Unit received more than 40,232 reports of online child sexual exploitation in the 2022-2023 financial year.

CSE can be difficult to open your eyes to, especially once you become aware of the prevalence of this crime in our society. Awareness is our first line of defence. We can’t confront anything we don’t know, or understand. 

At ICMEC Australia, we’re constantly facilitating meaningful collaboration and partnerships across both public and private sectors for the ultimate purpose of keeping children safe from harm. We work collectively to spread awareness, address gaps in the ecosystem, and work with technological partners on innovative solutions to this awful issue. 

We aren’t the ones who do the hard work, but we take an active approach to help those on the front lines of this crime to have access to the resources, information and connections they need to enhance their approach.

We implore businesses to start by learning about the issue and understanding where their systems, processes and procedures can play a role. It takes a whole of community response to break the cycle and we all have a part to play.  

Learn more about the issue

Increase awareness throughout your business and across your wider stakeholders and partners about the prevalence of this issue, especially in those areas that are more vulnerable to this crime like financial services, risk and compliance, procurement, and customer service teams. 

There are so many incredible resources out there, put together by groups such as the National Office for Child Safety, the eSafety Commissioner and the AFP’s Think U Know program. Equipping yourself with the knowledge to support children leads to greater prevention and protection.

If you have them, speak to your risk and compliance teams, and even your customer service teams to discover better and more effective ways to adhere to reporting requirements.

Talk about the issue

According to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, only 52% of parents and carers talk to their children about online safety. Prevention is key to combatting this crime. As hard as it is, we must confront it and have conversations with each other and children about how to prevent and stop this growing issue. We need to open the dialogue across society – businesses included. 

Children need to feel they won’t be judged or blamed for what has happened. It’s important to be having conversations with our children about what to look for, and create an environment where they feel comfortable to come to the adults in their lives if they were to feel uncomfortable or uneasy about anything that has happened online.  

Understand that everyone can play their part

Every single business, large or small, has a role to play in educating their workforce about this issue, and determining how else they may contribute to helping prevent the exploitation of children. It is only once we connect all the puzzle pieces different organisations hold that we can fight this crime.  

It can help to think about this issue from the perspective that unfortunately, statistically, there could be many people in your workforce who have lived experience of child abuse. The Australian Childhood Maltreatment Study from April 2023 found more than one in four Australians have experienced one or more types of child sexual abuse. There may also be many parents or carers who would want to be educated about this issue and better equipped to spread the message further. 

Once we have awareness, a collaborative and networked approach is essential. Organisations must work within and across financial institutions and across sectors to ensure that they’re doing everything they possibly can to counter CSE. If you’re still uncertain, ICMEC Australia can provide the guidance, resources and connections to expertise your business needs.  

ICMEC Australia is a not-for-profit that collaborates with companies (in particular financial services), governments, law enforcement and academics to detect, report, prosecute and prevent child sexual exploitation. 

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