The importance of a strong community in keeping kids safe online

At the eSafety Office, we strive to promote and create safe online communities and experiences for all Australians, but particularly younger Australians. Earlier this week, we launched a new poster to complement the message of National Child Protection Week and raise awareness with the community about the role they can play in reporting online child abuse material.

Every day, our Cyberreport investigators encounter horrific online content, the nature of which most Australians could not begin to imagine—nor should they have to. Responding to complaints from Australian residents, the team investigates images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. While the impact of viewing such content can never be fully mitigated, knowing that we are supported by a global community of like-minded individuals and organisations drives us to tirelessly pursue the take down of online child sexual abuse material.

Dealing with this horrendous content, and knowing what is at stake, naturally brings our team closer together. Cyberreport is made up of a diverse mix of dedicated, resilient investigators, drawing on a breadth of complementary experience from careers in law enforcement, classification, legal practice and intelligence. Each team member contributes different skills, abilities and perspectives to the challenges of investigating online child sexual abuse material.

However, tackling an issue as diffuse and complicated as online child sexual abuse material requires more than local effort—it demands international collaboration. Towards that end, Cyberreport works with teams from all over the world to remove content and disrupt the networks within which it is shared.

Our most important allies internationally are the members of the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE). As the Australian INHOPE member, Cyberreport is part of a global community of 48 hotlines in 43 countries dedicated to combatting online child sexual abuse material. INHOPE takes a leading role in this fight, working cross-jurisdictionally to remove the content at its source, and destabilising a global economy built on content-as-currency.

In 2017, INHOPE identified over 259,000 videos and images of child sexual abuse material hosted around the world, 80% of which was removed in less than seven days. Every time an image or video of child sexual abuse is removed, the risk of re-victimisation for the child depicted is reduced.

In Australia, we work closely with the Australian Federal Police and state and territory law enforcement agencies to rapidly notify them when abuse material shows Australian victims or offenders. We are proud of the actions taken by our friends in law enforcement to safeguard children, both online and offline.

Being a member of a strong community, nationally and internationally, provides Cyberreport with opportunities for collaboration, information sharing and innovation—all in the interest of effectively combatting online child sexual abuse material. There is no place in our community for child sexual abuse material—and the knowledge that we are not tackling this problem alone gives us hope that we truly can create a safer environment for children online.