Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Principles an important step to counter online exploitation and abuse

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Dr Deidre Palmer has welcomed principles developed by five national governments to help organisations combat the sexual abuse of children online.

The Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse for online platforms and services seek to stop the viewing and sharing of child sexual abuse materials, the grooming of children online and the livestreaming of child sexual abuse.

The principles were developed by the “Five Country” Ministers (Ministers for Home Affairs, Interior, Security and Immigration) from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States in collaboration with digital industry representatives.

The principles also provide pathways for service providers to report these offences to law enforcement.

Dr Palmer says it’s a timely initiative, particularly when so much day-to-day activity is shifting online.

“The ability to connect and stay in-touch online is hugely beneficial, particularly in the current climate of uncertainty,” said Dr Palmer.

“The online world provides almost limitless opportunities for business and education, but it is, unfortunately, an inherently risky environment for vulnerable people, including children, as it also provides opportunity for those who seek to do harm.”

“I endorse the voluntary principles as a critical framework for governments, industry and civil society to work together to counter online sexual exploitation and abuse.”

“Following the call of Jesus for abundant life for all people, the Uniting Church is committed to being a Christian community, which creates safe environments for children, where they can flourish, free of exploitation and abuse.

“We advocate for and are committed to principles, policies and practices, that ensure the safety of all children in Australia and everywhere.”

Rev John Cox, Executive Officer of the Uniting Church’s National Safe Church Unit says online safety is a key part of a comprehensive response to safety.

“The UCA, across all our Councils, Congregations and Agencies, is committed to growing and sustaining a culture of safety across the Church and this includes the online spaces in which we and our members operate,” said Rev. Cox.

“The National Safe Church Unit is working to embed the voluntary principles across the life of the Church alongside its work to act on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse.”

For more information about the National Safe Church Unit and our work to keep children safe please contact the Unit Director, Rev John Cox (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

More information on the Voountary Principles is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.