Legislative Council: Thursday, March 21, 2024


Child Sex Offences

The Hon. C. BONAROS (15:00): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Attorney a question about child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Leave granted.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: According to a recent report of the Australian Industry of Criminology that has just been released, a staggering 12.4 per cent of respondents have indicated that requests have been made of them on dating apps for photos of their children or other children, pressure to provide sexual images of those children, requests to meet those children before it was appropriate, and requests for information of a sexual nature about those children, including breast size and whether they had their period, and offer of payment for photos, videos or live streams of those children.

One in eight people accessing dating sites have had such requests made of them, and the report also found that younger people, First Nations people, people whose first language was not English, and people with a disability or long-term illness were also at higher risk on those dating apps. My question to the Attorney is: what, if any, actions are being taken by the government to address the issue of child sexual exploitation and abuse as it applies to dating apps, or indeed any other online app that is easily accessible, given those very alarming and shocking statistics?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:02): I thank the honourable member for her question, and it is a very good question and something I think we all deplore: the vile monsters who prey upon children, whether that is physically on our streets or online, and particularly the online activity that can lead to much more serious offending.

I know both state and federal police conduct operations to try to catch these offenders who use online platforms, including dating apps. I am very pleased that this parliament, in this term of the government—and I know the honourable member was a fierce advocate for changes that have strengthened Carly's Law in particular to make it very clear that where it is law enforcement posing as a younger person there is no barrier to the prosecuting of those monsters who prey upon children.