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Crimes against children

We target child exploitation offenders and remove children from harm
    About this crime type

    About this crime

    We work to keep children safe and remove them from harm. Our goal is to prevent crimes against children.

    Child exploitation offences include:

    • engaging in sexual activity with a child under 16
    • engaging with child abuse content
    • contacting or 'grooming' a child under 16 for sexual abuse.

    Travelling to sexually abuse a child is illegal. It's a crime to travel overseas to engage in, encourage or benefit from sexual activity with children under 16 years of age. It's also illegal to use a mobile phone or the internet to exploit children sexually.

    It's illegal to take or send a child overseas in breach of parenting orders when:

    • there is an order limiting or preventing the child's overseas travel
    • court proceedings for a parenting order are pending
    • an appeal against a parenting order is pending.

    It is also an offence to keep a child outside Australia where a court order is in place, or court proceedings are pending.

    Foreign child exploitation is evolving rapidly and becoming more dangerous. A good example is sextortion for profit, in which hundreds of kids are scammed by entities offshore.

    Scott Ralph
    Team Leader

    Closing The Net

    ‘Closing The Net’ is a 10-part podcast series that provides an understanding of what constitutes online exploitation and shows how easily children can be targeted by anyone from anywhere.

    Cartoon people holding edges of a net

    Our work

    Our child protection work is complex. As part of this work, we:

    • disrupt and prosecute those who seek to harm or exploit children
    • remove children from harm
    • target people and networks who exploit children online
    • prevent the sexual exploitation of children online

    Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

    We lead the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE). It's a world leader in fighting child exploitation. The ACCCE drives a collective effort to fight child exploitation by bringing together key stakeholders and partners. We work to free children from harm with our partners in:

    • federal, state and territory government
    • law enforcement and investigative authorities
    • non-government organisations
    • the private sector
    • academia.

    In this work, we:

    • triage reports of child exploitation
    • stop abuse and remove victims from harm
    • provide intelligence information to the AFP, Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams, state and territory police and foreign law enforcement authorities
    • offer specialist help
    • support authorities to pursue, disrupt and prosecute online child sex offenders
    • develop education and awareness campaigns about how to stay safe online
    • ACCCE Strategic Plan 2022-26

    Implementing national strategy

    The Australian, state and territory governments are committed to the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse.

    The Child Protection National Strategy is being delivered through 2 action plans.

    As Australia's national policing agency, we are leading measures to:

    • boost frontline national law enforcement efforts to prevent, disrupt, investigate and combat online child sexual abuse
    • provide targeted and critical investment in Australian law enforcement agencies by investing in frontline operations and ensuring best-practice policing and specialist approaches nationally.

    Offender prevention and intervention

    Our work primarily falls under Theme 4 of the Child Protection National Strategy: Offender Prevention and Intervention. Measures under this theme will:

    • enhance law enforcement cooperation and activities to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse
    • build support programs that prevent offending, intervene before offending occurs and reduce repeat offending.

    Enhancing law enforcement responses

    Australian law enforcement agencies work closely together to investigate child sexual abuse through the ACCCE, alongside Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams, including AFP and state or territory police child protection teams across Australia.

    We build on partnerships and activities to:

    • plan for, meet and leverage the advances in technology to disrupt child sexual abuse
    • achieve consistency in victim identification and management, particularly with vulnerable communities
    • ensure interoperability, intel-sharing and coordination with partners for maximum efficiency and operational impact
    • proactively target offenders and disrupt the use of technology in child sexual abuse and associated profiteering.

    Statement of Compliance with the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (CCSF)

    The Australian Government is committed to the development and implementation of a Commonwealth-wide framework to protect children and young people who may have contact with Commonwealth entities - the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (CCSF).

    The CCSF sets minimum standards for Commonwealth entities such as the AFP to create and maintain behaviours and practices that are safe for children.

    The AFP Child Safe Handbook informs personnel of their responsibilities to ensure children and young people are kept safe from abuse, harm or neglect. To meet requirements under the CCSF, the AFP has undertaken the 2023 Child Safe Risk Assessment and Treatment Plan (RATP) and has delivered the revised AFP Child Safe Handbook, the CCSF online child safe training package and launched the AFP Child Safe Champion and Officer Model. The AFP will continue to raise awareness of child safe policies through regular communications and awareness raising initiatives.

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    Download the handbook

    ThinkUKnow education program

    ThinkUKnow is an evidence-based education program to prevent online child exploitation. It's delivered nationally in partnership with police and industry partners.

    The program addresses topics including self-generated child abuse material, online grooming, image-based abuse and sexual extortion. It also encourages participants to seek help.

    ThinkUKnow provides:

    • presentations for schools and community groups
    • online learning resources and fact sheets
    • activities to do at home
    • educators' resources.


    The PlayingITSafe program aims to help parents, carers and educators teach young children how to stay safe online. It offers play-based activities and resources about online safety.

    The program was jointly developed by the AFP, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and the eSafety Commissioner.

    Our role in family law disputes

    We prevent the unlawful removal of children from Australia, through:

    Find out more about the AFP's role in family law disputes and the consequences of breaching family law and parenting orders.

    Report a crime or concern

    We can investigate Commonwealth crimes (sometimes called federal crimes) and crimes that take place in the Australian Capital Territory. What best describes the crime you want to report or what you want to tell us about?

    How to report crimes against children

    Before submitting a report read our crimes against children-related information to report accurately

    If a child is at immediate risk:

    If your child is overseas in violation of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), which relate to taking or sending a child outside Australia, let us know through our
    Report a crime form

    If you think a child may be at risk of exploitation, report it to the
    Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation 

    You can anonymously report offensive or illegal material online to the
    eSafety Commissioner

    How to report child sex offenders who travel

    If a child is at immediate risk:

    To report Australians travelling overseas to exploit children sexually use the
     Suspicious Behaviour Report form 

    Reports to Crime Stoppers can be made anonymously.

    Join us

    Keep children safe and remove them from harm.

    We are always looking for talented thinkers to undertake critical intelligence and investigations into crimes against children.

    As a child protection investigator, you could work in Australia or overseas. You'll target online child sexual abuse and exploitation. Read about the role of a police officer in the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation.

    As a community liaison officer you will help build trusting, positive relationships in the community. Part of your role will be to deliver the ThinkUKnow program in schools.

    Find out more about these roles:

    You can apply for positions when they are advertised on the our Jobs portal

    Specialist and support

    Analyst or officer – Intelligence Operations

    Specialist and support

    Examiner or investigator - Forensics

    Specialist and support

    Community liaison officer

    Police and PSOs

    Police officer – national policing