The Commonwealth Government is providing $146 million for the first phase of a new National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, including nearly $40 million in new funding to the AFP.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government’s key focus was on keeping Australians safe.
“The Royal Commission, which recommended development of the National Strategy, revealed the shocking extent of child sexual abuse in this country, ” he said in a statement published on Mirage News.
“As part of the National Strategy, we are boosting AFP efforts with a further $59.9 million worth of initiatives, enhancing their ability to fight child sexual abuse, particularly online.”
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said Australia and the AFP had been at the forefront of tackling child sexual abuse.
“Whether it’s been setting up the AFP-led Centre to Counter Child Exploitation through to working closely with the eSafety Commissioner, our government has worked hard to ensure the AFP has the tools they need to combat child sexual abuse online or in the real world every step of the way,” Minister Andrews said.
“Charges relating to child sexual abuse across the country have increased from 372 in 2018/19, to 2,753 in 2020/21, and here in WA, those numbers have risen from 40 to 306 in the same period.
“We know this is evidence of our law enforcement efforts working – but any sexual crime against a child is one too many, and we must make sure we bring these numbers down in the long term.”
Assistant Minister Morton said that law enforcement agencies were seeing an alarming rise in charges and arrests.
“The Commonwealth has a leadership and coordination role in tackling child sexual abuse, and many of these measures address our responsibilities under the Commonwealth Criminal Code,” Assistant Minister Morton said.
“This new strategy also goes beyond law enforcement, including to prevent abuse before it occurs, to better support victims and survivors, and to reduce stigma. It is a 10 year, whole-of-nation framework to establish a coordinated and consistent approach to prevent and better respond to child sexual abuse in Australia.”
The National Strategy will complement and align with other national policy frameworks, such as the current and future National Plans to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and Closing the Gap.
Key initiatives include:
- $59.9 million worth of initiatives to be delivered by the Australian Federal Police to combat child sexual abuse.
- $13.9 million to bolster the capabilities of AUSTRAC, the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and the Department of Home Affairs to equip intelligence, research and border protection agencies to disrupt the cash flow behind child sexual abuse, prevent and disrupt livestreamed child sexual abuse, intercept material and offenders at the border, and enhance our ability to identify offenders within the community.
- $7.8 million for Home Affairs to work with Indo-Pacific partners on regional policy and legislative responses to child sexual abuse.
- $2.95 million to help the Department of Home Affairs build relationships with the digital industry to drive a coordinated and collaborative charge against offenders’ exploitation of online platforms to commit child sexual abuse related crimes.
- $24.1 million to strengthen Commonwealth capacity to prosecute perpetrators of child sexual abuse.
- $16.8 million for the Attorney-General’s Department to enhance and expand legal assistance concerning child sexual abuse.
- $10.9 million for the National Indigenous Australians Agency to co-design place-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing approaches to support survivors of child sexual abuse.
- $4.7 million for Sport Integrity Australia to enhance child safeguarding in sport.
- $3.0 million to the eSafety Commissioner to deliver targeted online education programs to support parents and families to prevent online harms to children.
- $5 million to expand the National Office for Child Safety’s national leadership role to deliver the National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.
Further announcements will be made with the full National Strategy, including additional measures to be jointly delivered by the Commonwealth and its state and territory partners.