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How Australia’s top business leaders have teamed up to combat CSE

  • Written by Rosie Campo

The sexual abuse and exploitation of children online is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world. In the shadows of the digital age, the tide of online child sexual exploitation and abuse is swelling, faster than we can respond to, and is challenging us to mount a formidable response. This isn't just a crime; it's a violation of innocence that knows no borders, thriving where light is scarce.

In 2022 alone, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children added 1,141,667 new confirmed child sexual abuse material (CSAM) files to its database, for a total of 6,314,832. These are unique files, not duplicates, highlighting the amount of new material being created every day.

It’s a complex issue that requires a strong response from a variety of sectors - including our country’s top business minds. At ICMEC Australia, we’re fortunate to have built a team made up of varied industry experience including former corporates, law enforcement, government and some brilliant innovative young minds.

The ICMEC Australia team have honed their skills across a variety of industries but have a shared vision of using their abilities to help make the world a better place - in our case, protecting and reducing harm to children. We understand that the protection of children is good business practice and that we all have an important role in society to protect our most vulnerable.

Our approach is multifaceted. We're going beyond response tactics alone by anticipating, innovating and advocating to protect children. It’s impossible to end CSE for good, but we can contribute to the fight against this heinous crime. To get there, it takes a collaborative whole-of-system approach.

We work with financial institutions, telecommunications companies, government, law enforcement, academics and NGOs. Too often, systemic barriers can make it hard to protect children as comprehensively as we want to. By leveraging our collective expertise and resources towards developing impactful solutions, we can save more children from harm.

Anna Bowden, ICMEC Australia’s Chief Executive Officer has an extensive background in impact investing, philanthropy and impact strategy. Having worked across government, social impact organisations, foundations, and consulting, Anna provides a deep understanding of governance, impact, and outcomes-focused programs.

Anna's affinity for our critical mission of protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation intersects with her ability to provide innovative solutions to wicked problems - making her a passionate leader driving our organisation's work.  Anna’s diverse experience brings insights across multiple sectors, helping navigate the complex public-private ecosystem better.

"We’ve recruited some of the absolute best experts from across the country and internationally to deliver our impact," Anna says. "We need comprehensive, cross-sector approaches to child protection. Government, law enforcement, families, community, and business all play a critical role."

This is why a diverse team of experts is so important to our organisation. A highly networked problem, where perpetrators of this crime help one another evade detection, requires a collaborative solution.

We bring together the public and private sectors to turn on the lights and fight this crime together. Dannielle Kelly, Head of Capacity and Prevention at ICMEC Australia, brings her former law enforcement experience - 17 years at the AFP, working with government, NGOs, academics and law enforcement internationally on the most up-to-date prevention methods.

“Child sexual abuse is a community-wide issue,” says Dannielle. “Police have stated for years that they can't arrest their way out of this, we need systems in place that support our law enforcement partners, bringing together experts from the public and private sector to work together on preventing this heinous crime.”

Perpetrators are collaborating and using technology to harm at scale, so ICMEC Australia and its stakeholders need to collaborate and use technology to target perpetrators at the same scale. ICMEC Australia has a number of initiatives that you can get involved in.

ICMEC Australia hosts a Collaboration Working Group periodically that brings senior law enforcement, government and top financial crime professionals  together to share information that will help combat this crime. This amazing collective comes together without competition, to share and collaborate with the  goal of combating this horrific crime.

These same stakeholders get involved in diligently testing technological solutions to enhance their approach to fighting CSE. The online dissemination and sale of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) creates multiple digital traces that, when connected, can help to identify perpetrators and their victims, leading to the prosecution of criminals and the rescue of child victims.

This effort wouldn’t be possible without top business leaders contributing their time and expertise - both within ICMEC Australia and across the broader business community. As we continue to shine a light on these horrendous crimes, a collaborative mindset is the best tool we could have in our toolbox.

About ICMEC Australia:

ICMEC Australia is a not-for-profit that collaborates with companies (in particular financial services), governments, law enforcement and academics to detect, report, prosecute and prevent child sexual exploitation.

ICMEC Australia advocates for policies, laws, and interventions that better address issues relating to the proliferation of child sexual abuse material, online grooming, and live streaming that have emerged as enormous threats to children.

About Rosie Campo, Head of Collaboration – Corporate Partnerships, ICMEC Australia:

Rosie Campo is the Head of Collaboration – Corporate Partnerships at ICMEC Australia, where she plays a pivotal role in developing and executing programs aimed at financially detecting, reporting, and preventing child exploitation. With a wealth of experience spanning the public and private sectors, Rosie uses her  expertise by working with stakeholders to advocate for children's rights within Australian organisations.

Collaborating closely with banks and corporate entities, Rosie spearheads initiatives to enhance the financial detection and reporting of child sexual exploitation. Her unwavering dedication underscores her belief that protecting children is a collective responsibility, requiring collaboration and unwavering dedication across a range of sectors and institutions.

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