Child sex offences
Sexual abuse of children is abhorrent. It's illegal wherever it occurs. The Australian Government is doing everything it can to prevent it.
It's illegal for Australians to be involved in any sexual activity, here or overseas, with a child under 16. It's a crime to encourage others to have sexual activity with minors. You could be arrested or jailed overseas, or when you return to Australia.
It's also a crime to not report a child sex offence that you know about.
This page provides information about:
- sexual exploitation and child abuse overseas
- travelling as a child sex offender
- child sex tourism
- how to report child sex offences overseas
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) works to prevent and investigate child sex offences by Australians. Both here and overseas. The AFP works in partnership with State and Territory police. It also collaborates with international law enforcement agencies.
Sexual exploitation and child abuse overseas
The AFP works with law-enforcement agencies in other countries. Together they monitor and investigate Australian citizens, permanent residents or companies associated with child sex offences.
If you sexually exploit or abuse children younger than 16 overseas, or encourage this, you face harsh penalties.
If you commit these crimes overseas, the AFP can investigate and prosecute you in Australia.
Individuals face up to 25 years imprisonment and companies face fines of up to $500,000. A number of Australians have been successfully prosecuted under these laws.
Travelling as a child sex offender
If you're a registered child sex offender, you need permission to travel. It's illegal to travel, or attempt to travel, overseas without permission from child protection authorities.
If you travel without permission you face up to 5 years in prison.
The AFP will give the following details about you to international authorities:
- your personal contact details
- your travel details
- your registration period
- information about your offence and sentence
The overseas law enforcement agency will decide what actions to take. They may deny you entry into their country.
Find out ahead of time if you'll be allowed to travel. You could lose the money you've paid for air fares, cruises and accommodation if you don't.
If you're a registered child sex offender:
- Contact the embassy or consulate of the country you want to travel to and ask if you'll be allowed to enter
- If you're going on a cruise, contact the operations area of your cruise line to find out if you'll be allowed onboard
Child sex tourism
It's illegal to travel overseas to engage in sexual activity with children younger than 16. It's also illegal to prepare to do this. You can be charged before a child has been harmed.
Examples of illegal behaviour include:
- arranging a trip for the purposes of child sex tourism
- 'grooming' a child online for sexual activity overseas
Reporting child sex offences
If a child is in immediate danger, call the police.
If you suspect or know about child sex offences committed overseas, including child sex tourism, report it to authorities.
- Report to the local police. Contact details are in each destination's travel advice under 'Contacts'
- Report it to the Australian Federal Police. From Australia, phone 131 237. From overseas, call +61 2 5127 0000 option 2.
- You can report suspicious activity via the AFP's Report Child Sex Tourism form.
You can report anonymously. Be aware that if you know of a crime and don't report it, you could also be arrested and jailed, in Australia or overseas.
- See the Consular Services Charter to understand what we can and can't do for Australians overseas.
- Understand what happens if you're arrested or jailed overseas.
- Read about forced marriage and our advice on travelling with children
- Read about reducing the risk of sexual assault, and what to do if you've been sexually assaulted overseas.
- See the Australian Federal Police information about, and for, travelling child sex offenders.
- Read about travel restrictions for reportable offenders from the Australian Passport Office.
- Learn about the work by the Department of Home Affairs to stop child sexual exploitation.
- See information about the work by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to prevent child sex offences.
In the event of a natural disaster or other crisis in or near your location, you may require assistance. Read this page to see where to get help.
Before you go overseas, be aware of some of the common scams that happen to travellers. Take steps to minimise your risk.