PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

Children and young people at serious risk of sexual exploitation will be better protected thanks to a new partnership between the Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Building on experience from previous operations, Victoria Police Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Team investigators will increase their focus on and engagement with individuals at significant risk of sexual exploitation.

For the first time, a Victoria Police Sexual Offence and Child Abuse investigator will be allocated to each child who is identified as being at significant risk.

The investigator, along with child protection staff, will build a relationship with each child or young person, building their trust while continuing to disrupt perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

This new Enhanced Response Model builds on the Andrews Labor Government’s work to improve responses to child sexual exploitation, including employing four specialist sexual exploitation child protection practitioners.

The new approach is part of the Labor Government’s Keeping them safe from sexual exploitation strategy.

Under the Labor Government’s Roadmap for Reform, $8 million has also been allocated to provide mandated minimum qualification training for residential care workers who look after children and young people who cannot live with their families.

Unannounced spot audits have also been introduced for residential care units and we have increased staff levels in residential care. This increased staffing includes ‘stand up’ staff members overnight in standard residential care units.

The Government’s Targeted Care Packages have seen more than 170 children and young people move from residential care to home based care.

Complementing the initiative, Child Protection will introduce an improved way of responding when children and young people go missing, recognising that they may be at risk of sexual exploitation.

The model will initially be introduced in Epping, Dandenong, Brimbank, Ballarat and Shepparton.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos

 “The Andrews Labor Government has taken decisive action to protect children and young people, employing four specialist sexual exploitation child protection practitioners as part of a whole-of-government strategy to keep kids safe.”

“Child Protection workers, community agencies and Victoria Police work very closely to keep children safe. I welcome this additional assistance from the Victoria Police child sexual exploitation experts.”

“The sad fact is that any child or young person can find themselves targeted by people who want to exploit them – and as a community, we have to do all in our power to prevent that.”