I’m really proud to be here today in the company of some amazing people. I want to pay tribute to all of the NGO’s that are here, people who really make a significant difference in the lives of families that they help, many that they don’t even know. Touching the life and touch the family and put somebody and their entire future is entirely different than what it might have been otherwise. So that is incredibly empowering to turn up to work each day and to have that ability.
In many cases, it may be your own tragedy that has been turned into an opportunity to make a positive impact in our society. We must continue the journey and we rely on your support. So thank you very much for the sacrifice you all make. Thank you very much to Karl, I want to say also to Jamie and Dan for their leadership but all of the team within the Australian Federal Police, all of the agencies in Home Affairs.
There is an incredible effort underway across the portfolio, we’ve given definite direction to our whole leadership team from the Secretary down to the commissioners, across Australian Border Force, AUSTRAC, ACIC, all of our agencies now have a very firm focus on protecting children and that provides, I hope some dividend for the work of front line officers.
We had a celebration last night and some awards were given for women in policing and we have seen amazing examples of bravery and dedication in the last twelve months through the work of ACCCE and our partnership with QPOL here in Queensland and our other agency partners around the country. Without your support, without your effort, dedication and the relationship we’ve been able to build both within Government and across our society again I hope has been be in your mind an incredibly rewarding effort.
The point I wanted to make today is we have made a number of changes as the Attorney General and I announced in Perth earlier this week in relation to mandatory minimum sentences for people who commit serious sexual offences against children. We’ve increased the maximum penalties, for some people who commit again, egregious against children and we want that to send a very definite message of deterrence who might be thinking of offending for the first time and to repeat offenders but it is also a very strong message from the community.
I believe we reflect the community’s standards in this regard, to the judiciary as well. We want tough sentences, somebody who violates the innocence of a child, someone who grooms a parent to gain access to their child, is committing an offence in our country and will be punished in a way they have not been punished before.
That is a message which many elements of our society need to hear. It reflects the important messages that many of you have conveyed to us over a period of time. I hope that provides additional support to our investigators, I hope it provides a significant deterrent to people who might think about destroying the life of a young child in our society and send a very clear message from the Prime Minister down from our Government that this is a key priority for us – to keep children safe.
The other point that I wanted to make very quickly is that this is just the first twelve months. It has been a learning experience for many people in this room and across the organisation which you represent but I promise you that this is the first step.
We are looking at other measures at the moment, ways in which we can support front line officers, all of the technology, we look at what international partners are doing. We had an incredibly productive session with the United States and United Kingdom looking at the scourge element of encryption, incredibly important in parts of our society in banking etc but it’s being used and exploited by criminal syndicates, including those who trade in trafficking.
And there is a great deal of momentum now particularly with the United States in working with the technology companies. So there are many elements where we are attacking the scourge and we can only do that with the support of all of you, the agencies you represent, the people you represent but I really pay tribute today to the frontline officers and to those that support them.
They deal with one of the most difficult crime types, as we know. The first twelve months there may have been some teething issues working out our different directions but this juggernaut continues and momentum is going to continue to build. We will provide resources and support but we can only do that with the amazing support of all of you so thank you very much for your support your efforts over the last twelve months but in many cases over decades. We are going to make a big difference in the lives of children in this country.