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Bishop announced Australian-PH partnership vs. online child abuse and exploitation

Julie Bishop
Julie Bishop

Nov.19 – Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today announced a a partnership between the Australian Government and the Department of Justice and the Department of Social Welfare and Development to launch and implement a program designed to protect Filipino children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.

Foreign Minister Bishop said this abhorrent crime is a serious social issue and it’s not only confined to the Philippines. She said all countries are affected by this including Australia and this crime has intensified by virtue of new technologies and social media.

“Tragically and sadly, it is also compounded by the fact that parents who live in poverty often use their vulnerable children as a means of attaining funding for basic resources and needs,” she said.

Foreign Minister Bishop said the Australian Government believes that it must act, and in partnership with the Philippine government and the Asia Foundation, it is providing $2 million over three years for programs, specifically to ensure that community  can protect children from this kind of criminal activity.

“ We’ll be working with Philippine government and the Asia Foundation, and specifically our funding will be used to assist in the passage of legislation to set up a registry of sex offenders, to establish a national notification system, to ensure that the stakeholders within the court system have the skills, have the training to deal with these exceedingly sensitive issues with very vulnerable young children, ensuring that we have rules in place that can deal with the appropriate treatment of children in the court system and in the judiciary process,” Bishop said

“We want to be advocate for changes to the wiretapping laws so that there can be electronic surveillance of potential offenders. We want to support the setting up of child protection teams with police, with prosecutors, with social services, officials and representatives. We want to support education, training, information across the sector. We also want to focus on particular hotspots of abuse to ensure that we can protect children in every way possible.

Bishop said  the Child Protection Program will seek to protect Filipino children, to prosecute the offenders and to promote children’s interest and their rights . She said she is pleased that the private sector is supporting our efforts, and a number of Australian companies have contributed to this program: ANZ, Telstra and QBE, and I thank them for their presence here today.

Yesterday, Minister Bishop announced Australia’s ongoing assistance in another area of significant challenge to the Philippines, the Filipino people, and the Philippine government, and that is the ongoing peace process in Southern Philippines.

Minister Bishop  announced that Australia would provide further $4 million to help the Philippines ensure that ceasefire is maintained in the conflict-ridden areas of Southern Philippines, that we can do what we can throughout that peace process to ensure people have skills and building capacity to provide long lasting peace and security in this nation.

Bishop said  today’s  announcement is about ensuring that people of the Philippines have the training capacity and capability to deal with a very serious criminal issue, and she  hopes to align this Children’s Protection Program with other Australia’s initiatives that are attacking crime in our region, transnational crime including human trafficking and money laundering.

Online sexual abuse and exploitation is unacceptable at any time. It is utterly unacceptable in the case of children anywhere, anytime, and I believe this response is timely, Bishop said.