Active Research

Conceptualising and Estimating the Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation (Phase One of Australian Study into Economic Costs of Child Sexual Exploitation)

    • Understanding child sexual abuse
    • Prevention of child sexual abuse
    • Response to child sexual abuse
Research Topic areas 
  • Child sexual exploitation
  • Government & policy responses
  • Justice & legal responses
  • Online abuse
  • Therapeutic responses
Project Duration
Start: January 2024
End: December 2024
Geographical Scope
All ages
All genders

Project Lead

Dr Jonah Rimer, The University of Queensland

Project Team


By understanding the economic and broader implications of child sexual exploitation (CSE), we can begin to see the true urgency of action needed. Understanding the impact of CSE on a victim-survivor’s ability to enjoy a safe, secure, and happy future is also critical in helping to shape responses to the crime.

This is an International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) Australia commissioned Australian Study into Economic Costs of CSE. The project is intended to be multi-phased, with Dr Jonah Rimer from the University of Queensland selected to lead Phase One.


Focusing on Australia, phase one aims to conceptualise the multi-faceted meaning of “costs” in relation to online CSE victimisation, offending, and responses; provide an overview of cost categories, components, and sectors for different forms of online exploitation; and begin preliminary estimates of financial and non-financial impacts of CSE.


Methods include 1) a literature review of research in related fields domestically and internationally; 2) mapping of cost categories, components, and sectors; 3) documenting readily available Australian data that can inform costs from the review and mapping, noting gaps; 4) initial estimations where possible and recommendations for future phases/further data.

Significance and Dissemination

The Phase One findings will be written in a publicly available report and shared with the CSE response ecosystem and wider community through the channels and networks of ICMEC Australia and Dr Rimer. The findings will help enhance discussions with government and industries about CSE as an issue, build awareness on the requirement for funding and consideration within holistic models, and strengthen the evidence base for organisations and professionals who play a key part in detecting, reporting, and preventing CSE.

The Phase One report will also help serve as a “conversation starter,” where feedback and suggestions are welcome to inform the next phase of this research project.

By placing the victim-survivor at the centre and finding as many ways as possible to understand the impacts of this crime, we can move closer to being able to prevent it in the first place.

Further Details

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Funding body:
ICMEC Australia
Australian Human Research Ethics Committee:
University of Queensland Research Ethics and Integrity
Response to child sexual abuse

Evaluation of the Multi-Agency Investigation & Support Team

James Herbert
Centre for Social Impact - University of South Australia
David O'Shaughnessy
University of Western Australia
Response to child sexual abuse

Effect of multi-agency deliberation on perceptions of risk in responses to child abuse and neglect

James Herbert
Centre for Social Impact - UWA
Understanding child sexual abuse

The Australian child sexual abuse attitudes, knowledge and response study

Andrea de Silva
The National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse

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