A Victorian man has been charged by the Victorian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (Vic-JACET) for allegedly grooming a person to make it easier to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia.
The man, 73, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today (Friday 05 August).
The Vic-JACET began their investigation on Tuesday, 2 August, after being contacted by the Australian Border Force (ABF) when the man arrived at Melbourne International Airport on a flight from Vietnam.
His baggage and electronic devices were examined, with ABF officers locating messages between the man and a facilitator outside Australia, about hiring young children for sexual activity.
Investigators from Vic-JACET, comprising members from AFP and Victoria Police, examined his phone and found online messages allegedly linked to the man and an offence relating to grooming a child for sexual activity.
A search warrant was executed at the man’s home later that same day (2 August 2022).
Leading Senior Constable Mark Sharer said the AFP and its state and territory law enforcement partners remained committed to protecting children.
“We work together with our partner agencies to locate and target online predators, wherever they may be in the world,” LSC Sharer said.
“There’s no getting away with exploiting and abusing children, even online or in environments where you think you are safe; we will eventually find you.”
ABF Superintendent Aviation Operations Nicholas Walker said protecting children from harm was a top priority for the ABF.
“The ABF works around-the-clock with our law enforcement partners to bring those who seek to do harm to children to justice,” Supt Walker said.
“Our officers are highly skilled at identifying people at our airports who are involved in the abuse of children.
“The ABF will continue to work tirelessly to prevent the sexual abuse of children anywhere at any time. Our message is simple, you will be caught, arrested and charged.”
The man was arrested and charged with:
- “Grooming” a person to make it easier to engage in sexual activity with a child outside Australia, contrary to section 272.15A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The man was granted bail and will appear in court on 25 November 2022.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years’ imprisonment.
The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.
The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.
Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse and exploitation are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.accce.gov.au/report. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.
Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.
An award-winning podcast launched last year by the ACCCE ‘Closing The Net’ is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a ‘whole-of-community’ response.
The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at www.accce.gov.au/support.
Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found at www.thinkuknow.org.au, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.