AUSTRALIA — A Gippsland man, 63, is expected to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court today (10 February 2023) charged with possessing child abuse material.
The investigation started when the AFP received a report from the United States’ Department of Homeland Security Investigations about a user purchasing alleged exploitation material off the dark net using cryptocurrency.
AFP investigators linked the Gippsland man to the alleged illegal online activity.
A search warrant was executed at the man’s Gippsland residence early yesterday morning (9 February, 2023) by the Victorian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team, comprising members of the AFP and Victoria Police.
Officers located and seized electronic items allegedly containing child abuse material. The devices will be subject to further forensic examination.
The man has been charged with 1 count of possessing child abuse material contrary to section 474.22A of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
If convicted he could face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
AFP Senior Constable Cassandra Barlee said anyone who accessed and viewed files of children being sexually abused was committing a crime.
“Children are not commodities to be used for the abhorrent gratification of sexual predators,” Senior Constable Barlee said.
“Our message to online offenders has not changed – if you procure, access and transmit child abuse material, we will find you and prosecute you.”
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.