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It’s National Child Protection Week

This year National Child Protection Week will celebrate its 30th year with the theme: Putting children first…

Putting children first’was front of mind for National Association for Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) when the National Child Protection Week campaign was launched in 1990. The aim was the bring abuse and neglect out of the shadows and put child wellbeing on the national agenda.

Since then, the need to put children first has been recognised time and time again as an important pillar for boosting the wellbeing of all children in Australia.  

Last year’s National Child Protection Week campaign was based on research that shows the importance of putting children first when talking about parenting, and continued the message that conversations are a key part of engaging the whole community in caring for children.

Under this year’s theme of ‘Putting children first’ we invite all Australians to look at how they can prioritise children in their lives and communities and to engage in National Child Protection Week – as individuals, and as part of families, organisations, communities and society.

Three charged with online grooming as National Child Protection Week commences

Police are urging parents and carers to play their part in ‘putting children first’ to ensure the safety and wellbeing of youth across the state, following the arrest of three men over alleged online grooming.

Last week officers from the Child Abuse and Sex Crime Squad’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit (CEIU) made three separate arrests over alleged online grooming offences detected across Sydney and the state’s north.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, The Hon. David Elliott MP, said National Child Protection Week is a good opportunity to remind the community that all young people have the right to feel safe and supported.

A timely reminder

‘It is a timely reminder that everyone has an important role to play in assisting police and other government agencies in keeping our kids safe and happy,’ said Minister Elliott.

‘It has been a difficult year for everyone in dealing with COVID-19 and as a result, we are seeing young people spending more time online and at risk of being targeted by predators.

‘Police will always be committed to protecting kids from harm, but do not underestimate the impact you can have as a parent or carer by educating your children on how to stay safe.’

Since January this year, the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad say they have arrested more than 560 people and laid more than 2800 charges, following investigations into child sexual assaults, serious physical abuse, extreme cases of neglect and online grooming.

In 90 per cent of the cases investigated, children have been abused by someone known to them

Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Chris Goddard, said that in more than 90 per cent of the cases investigated, children have been abused by someone known to them.

‘Recently we have seen a number of people arrested that hold positions of trust in the community, so it is worthwhile taking the time to make sure your children understand that help is always available if they ever need it,’ said Det A/Supt Goddard.

‘This year, we know more children have been spending time indoors at home, which often includes activities on devices and on the internet.

‘Not only should young people be very careful about providing personal information details to a person they only know in an online environment, they should never organise to meet, as doing so may place them at further risk of harm.

‘If you or your child ever come across any concerning material online, we would encourage you to contact local police immediately.

‘The nature of incidents that our detectives are faced with can be difficult and confronting to investigate, but we will continue to work tirelessly to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community.’

Arrests last week

In the last week, Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad detectives arrested a number of people over the alleged sexual and physical abuse of children across the state.

Recent Strike Force Trawler arrests include:

  • Last month, detectives began engaging online with a man from the state’s Hunter region. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations with her. It will be further alleged he made arrangements to meet the girl for sex. Just before 10am last Tuesday (1 September 2020), detectives arrested a 44-year-old man at Waratah Railway Station. He was taken to Waratah Police Station and charged with using a carriage service to procure a person under 16 years for sexual activity. Detectives executed a search warrant at a home nearby, where they seized mobile phones, laptops and electronic storage devices. All items will undergo further examination. The man appeared at Newcastle Local Court the same day and was formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Thursday 22 October 2020.
  • In May this year, detectives began engaging online with a man from the Central Coast. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations and sent sexually explicit material. Last Wednesday (2 September 2020), detectives arrested a 41-year-old man at Newcastle. He was taken to Waratah Police Station and charged with using a carriage service to groom persons under 16 years of age. The man appeared at Newcastle Local Court, where he was formally refused bail to appear at Wyong Local Court on Wednesday 9 September 2020.
  • In July this year, detectives began engaging online with a man from Sydney’s east. Police will allege in court that the man believed he was speaking with a 14-year-old girl and engaged in sexually explicit conversations, before he made arrangements to meet her. Following inquiries, a 32-year-old man was arrested at Westmead last Thursday (3 September 2020). He was taken to Parramatta Police Station and charged with use carriage service to procure a child under 16 for sexual activity. The man appeared at Parramatta Local Court the same day, where he was granted strict conditional bail to appear at the Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday 3 November 2020.

Strike Force Trawler is an ongoing investigation by the CEIU into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children facilitated through the internet and related telecommunications devices.
Regular covert online investigations are conducted by the CEIU; and police in NSW work closely with their law-enforcement colleagues interstate and overseas.

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.

Prioritising the safety and wellbeing of children

Putting children first means prioritising the safety and wellbeing of children. To grow up well children need to feel safe and loved, have a chance to play and explore, have a say in decisions that affect them, and access to essential things like food, shelter and healthcare. 

For children to thrive we need to come together as a community and put children’s needs first during National Child Protection Week and every week. 

Please feel free to use the theme in the way that resonates best for you.

  • This might mean promoting the things we are already doing (or can do) right now to put children’s safety and wellbeing first.
  • It might mean reflecting on the past 30 years of how our communities have been putting children first.  
  • It might mean looking ahead and thinking about where we need to focus our attention into the future.
  • Or perhaps a bit of ‘all of the above.

Anyone with concerns about suspected child abuse or exploitation should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

More information and educational packages for parents and children are available from ThinkUKnow, a multi-agency program designed to educate and promote cyber safety: https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/

For more information about National Child Protection Week, visit: https://www.napcan.org.au/national-child-protection-week/


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