Gold Coast man charged with possessing child abuse material

Child_Exploitation

A Gold Coast man has been charged with child abuse material-related offences by the AFP Brisbane Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET).

The Merrimac man, 58, is expected to appear in Southport Magistrates Court today, 18 July 2022.

The investigation began in September 2021 when the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) received a report from the United States’ National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about child abuse material on a Dropbox account.

AFP JACET investigators allegedly linked the Merrimac man to the associated account.

A search warrant was executed at the man's home on 23 June 2022, with investigators seizing a personal computer, which will be subject to further forensic examination.

AFP Sergeant Bianca Warland said the AFP worked with international partners to help protect Australian children.

“Our investigators work tirelessly to identify anyone sharing or downloading child abuse material and to ensure they are prosecuted,” she said.

The man was charged with possessing child abuse material accessed, contrary to section 474.22A(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is 15 years' imprisonment.

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the 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.

Note to media:

Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL NOT 'CHILD PORNOGRAPHY'

The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.

Use of the phrase "child pornography" is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:

  • indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
  • conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.

Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.

Media enquiries

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If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2020-21

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

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