National Child Protection Week –AFP’s ThinkUKnow continues the conversation about online safety

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

The AFP-led ThinkUKnow program is continuing the conversation with parents, carers and teachers about the challenges children are facing online and how to protect them as part of National Child Protection Week 2022.

National Child Protection Week runs from 4-10 September and is held annually across Australia to raise awareness of child abuse prevention and issues connected with child protection.

AFP Commander Hilda Sirec said that after the disruption of face-to-face presentations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ThinkUKnow program and presenters are back in full swing.

“The unprecedented challenges of the last two years meant the ThinkUKnow program had to adapt very quickly. During lockdowns the program continued to focus on educating the community about online child sexual exploitation, and in addition to presentations, developed resources including a COVID lockdowns fact sheet, Social Media Starter Kit, Gaming, devices and what you need to know guide, and an online blackmail and sexual extortion kit,” Commander Sirec said.

ThinkUKnow was established in 2009 and is Australia's first and only nationally-delivered, law enforcement-led online child safety program, supporting the critical work of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE).

The program is a partnership between the AFP, Commonwealth Bank, Datacom, Microsoft Australia and all state and territory police and Neighbourhood Watch Australasia. Presentations are delivered by state and territory police to students, and by industry volunteers and police volunteers to parents, carers and teachers.

AFP Commander for the ACCCE Hilda Sirec said child safety can be challenging for parents, carers and teachers to navigate in an ever-changing online world.

“Parents and carers have told our volunteers that the guidance, tips and suggested actions from ThinkUKnow have helped open their eyes to not just the challenges that exist online, but also how to address them by engaging with their children,” she said.

“We really want to change the mindset of parents, carers and teachers from one of fear to one of empowerment. If they leave a ThinkUKnow presentation with a strategy and knowing where they can go to get help, that’s a positive outcome.”

“If we can prevent even one child from falling victim to online child sexual exploitation, then all our presentations are worth it. Technology is so integral to our lives and parents, carers and teachers want to know more, they want to equip themselves with the best tools to help the children in their lives.”

The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping online child sexual 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 2019 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

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

Connect with the AFP: Follow our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube pages to learn more about what the AFP does to keep Australia safe.

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

Policing and community news from the AFP