29 October 2020

Tania Maxwell MP has repeated her concern at the surge in child exploitation material available on the ‘dark web’ and hopes the Victorian Government will increase targeting of child pornography offenders.

The arrest last week of 44 Australian members of an international paedophile ring, including 11 Victorians, as part of Operation Molto, include mass charges of possession of extreme child exploitation material.

Ms Maxwell asked the Minister for Police to indicate how police and other law enforcement resourcing in Victoria has been strengthened to tackle online child exploitation during 2020, and specifically to deal with the rapidly escalating spread of child abuse material during coronavirus lockdowns.

Ms Maxwell spoke to the 2019 revelation of the former Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton that Victoria is facing a ‘tidal wave of violent child pornography material’. Ms Maxwell also raised a similar matter in February this year, seeking information about the work the Victorian Government is undertaking to target child pornography offenders, to ensure that sentencing genuinely reflects the gravity of these crimes, and to make publicly available crime data specific to child pornography offending and sentencing.

Ms Maxwell expressed her admiration and gratitude to those involved in bringing alleged perpetrators to justice through Operation Molto, including the Australian Federal Police, Federal Minister and the Federal Home Affairs Department.

Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell

“There has been an astonishing explosion in child exploitation activity during coronavirus lockdowns, with reports of a 163 per cent increase in dark web child abuse material in April to June this year.”

“We have to fight for the rights of children, and hold to account those who produce or view child exploitation material. The sentencing of these offenders must reflect the seriousness of the crime.”