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September 1, 2022 - 2 comments


… can be indicators that there's a problem.

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve experienced a serious ‘pause’ about a situation, or a person? This is a red flag and it could be an indicator that there is something not right. As parents, and community members, we should take notice of ‘red flag’ moments, instead of just ignoring them, because sometimes these ‘little things’ add up to reveal a much bigger picture. Reporting red flag behaviour could be the very thing that protects a child from danger.

Let’s take a moment to talk about red flags in regard to child safety by looking at what ‘grooming’ behaviour might look like.

NOTE: Grooming can happen face to face, or online. 

Recognising grooming behaviour is challenging. One of the difficulties, when it happens face to face, is that the groomer may actually be a well-known or well-liked person in the community. As a result, it’s easy for both the young person and the community, to trust them. “Even experts on the issue who have interviewed convicted child molesters remark on how ‘likable’ they appear.” (

And, the groomer’s social influence skills make the child feel like no one would believe them anyway if they were to report what was happening. 

Take a read of this real-life story below that one of our ZOE team members experienced when she was younger. Thankfully she responded to the “red flags” as an indication that something wasn't right. 

“When I was a teenager, I moved to a little town in regional Victoria. I started working at a small cafe and quickly began connecting with customers and with the wider community. 

One customer who started coming in was an older man in his late sixties or early seventies - let’s call him “John”. He asked me about my story and how I came to move to this town and he quickly took a liking to me. I’ve always gotten on well with the elderly, and so I thought that this was totally innocent. In fact, his over-the-top and bubbly nature made me think of him as just a sweet and excitable old man, completely harmless. I actually thought to myself that he might have some mental illness.

John started frequenting the cafe. 

He would chat to the other girls who worked at the cafe, but it was clear that I was his “favourite”. He would always read a newspaper in the cafe, and I remember him calling over one of the other girls to ask them if they thought that the photo of a young girl in the newspaper looked like me. 

He began asking lots of questions. His behaviour and intrigue in me started to intensify. 

Rather than coming into the cafe during peak times, he started showing up at the cafe right on close. I’d be stacking the chairs out the front of the cafe, and he would pull up in his car. I remember him jumping out of his car and quickly rushing to help me bring the tables and chairs indoors, despite me telling him that I could do my job by myself. 

On another occasion, it was closing time and he was the last person left in the cafe. He came up to pay for his coffee and cake and then tried to give me some cash. He said it was to pay for my train ticket. I refused even though he was quite pushy about it.

I told my good friend, who used to work in the Australian Defence Force, about John and how he’d most recently started offering me money for the train.

My friend quickly understood that this was predatory behaviour and told me he thought that John was grooming me. At first, I came to John’s defence! He was just a quirky old man who wanted to help out the young, new girl in town. 

But John’s behaviour continued to confirm my friend’s suspicions, and I started to feel targeted and unsafe. John would continue to show up at the cafe to compliment me and talk with me. He’d continue to come to the cafe right on close when our chef had already left and it was just him and I. He asked me if I wanted a ride home, which confirmed that his behaviour was not normal and unsafe. On this occasion, I took down his number plate. 

I remember feeling scared when I was alone with him. I lived very close to the cafe, above a strip of shops, so I remember feeling worried that I would be an easy target to follow. 

My friend decided that he wanted to see John in action, and wanted to make a point to John that I was not some isolated and vulnerable young woman, but that I had older friends who were looking out for me. 

So, we agreed that the next time John showed up at the cafe, I would text my friend, and he would come over. 

John came over one afternoon for cake and coffee. He was his usual extroverted, bubbly, and theatrical self. He gave me his usual attention, that is until my friend and his mate walked in the door and hugged me. John’s demeanour completely changed within an instant. When I saw him turn from an outgoing, almost unhinged personality, to a man completely still who would not look up from his newspaper or acknowledge me, I knew that he was not to be trusted. He quickly paid for his food with another waitress and left without even so much as a glance in my direction.

Two other instances stood out to me. 

Once, on my day off, I was walking down the street when I realised that John and, who I assumed was his wife/partner, were walking in my direction. When we passed each other, John did not even look at me. How strange, I thought. If there was nothing sinister going on, John would have greeted me in the street and willingly introduced me to his partner. And yet he pretended that I was just a stranger walking past. 

The next instance still sends chills down my spine. I lived in a unit above a strip of shops, where I entered my door from downstairs, which was backing onto a side street carpark. One day I headed outside and I stood still in my tracks. One of the distinguishing features of John is that he would wear a very heavy and strong cologne. It was pungent. Even after he’d left the cafe, I would still be able to smell it. It was always strong, and it was a scent that I had never smelt before. When I went outside my house that day, that same strong and unusual cologne scent was lingering around. 

I’ll never know what John’s intentions were. However disturbing the experience was for me, I am thankful that I was able to learn a lot from it. 

I learnt about grooming behaviour. John had identified me, and perceived me, as vulnerable. He tried to gather information about my personal circumstances. He identified what he thought could be my needs, like money for public transport, and tried to make me take his money. He’d try to do my jobs for me, and would even offer to drive me home. He would do these things when I was alone.

But John never got to exploit me because I had a friend who called it out for what it was and came to my side. If it wasn’t for my friend, I think the wool would have remained over my eyes for a lot longer. My experience says to me that as a community, we need to be more aware of what grooming behaviour looks like and we need to be able to call it out.”

How to spot it! Grooming behaviour might look like:

  • Special attention, outings, and gifts 
  • Spending time alone with the child/young person to gain trust. More than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations (
  • Isolating the child/young person from others 
  • Meeting the child/young person’s unmet needs 
  • Filling needs and roles within the family e.g. a father figure, homework help
  • Gradually crossing physical boundaries, and becoming increasingly intimate/sexual 
  • Use of secrecy, blame, and threats to maintain control 
  • Sharing sexualised material
  • Discussion of sexual topics, including telling dirty jokes (

**Just remember, “The goal of talking and being informed about these grooming behaviors is to strengthen your intuition and help you be on alert.” (


This week (National Child Protection Week) is all about the ways that we can all work together to build communities that support children and families. 

All adults can play a part by ‘tuning in’ to children in everyday situations about small worries; then they are much more likely to feel comfortable telling us if something big is wrong.

Talking with children about safety:

  • Support children to identify trusted adults (both within the family and outside) they can talk to, if they are worried, upset, or don’t feel safe. Make sure these adults know they are on your child’s list.
  • Remind children that they can talk to you or a trusted adult about anything, no matter how big or small their worry might be.
  • Talk to children about how they know when they feel safe or unsafe. Help them to listen to their early warning signs (how their body feels), and to trust their feelings and instincts.
  • Use everyday activities as opportunities for conversations (e.g. preparing meals and snacks, going for walks, playing, shopping). If children are used to having lots of communication, it can make it easier to talk when big or tricky issues come up.
  • Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. This helps children to develop a ‘feelings vocabulary’.

National Child Protection Week is a great time to start conversations with children and families about feeling safe.  


Further Reading: School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Red Flag Grooming Behaviors by Perpetrators

February 12, 2022 - No Comments!

90% of People Quit Online Courses…

-Here’s why you should finish this one-

You heard about it. Initially, there was disbelief. 

But now, as you research further, you identify an overwhelming sense that you feel passionate about ending child trafficking

So late one night, as thoughts and questions race through your mind, making it hard to sleep, you grab your phone and start scrolling, looking for a way to engage and learn more about the topic. 

You click the link on the ZOE website and sign up to do the free, online, self-paced course… “How hard could it be?”... “I have a spare few hours,” you tell yourself. But 6 months later when an email reminder comes, and you recall being only halfway through the first module, you are left wondering why on earth was it so hard to get started - let alone finish.

Despite the statistics, the Pathway to Preventing Child Trafficking course 

is one that you can, and should, actually finish. 

Let’s look at some of the reasons why people might not make it through to the end of the course and brainstorm some possible solutions.

#1 The topic is too confronting.


Child trafficking is indeed a very heavy topic. One suggestion is to have a friend or partner take the course at the same time as you so that you not only have some support to get through the hard parts, but you also have someone to discuss the content with and process the information at a deeper level. Take a moment to reflect and remember ‘why’ you started the course. What was your motivation for doing it and what do you need to do to take a step closer to seeing your goal met?  

#2 I got distracted or too busy


Think about other areas of your life where you commit to someone else, whether it be picking up your child from school or attending your friend’s theatre production. When you commit to something, you schedule it in the diary, (if you’re like me) you set a calendar reminder and of course, you see it through. 

So, when you think about showing personal integrity, committing to doing something (for yourself) and seeing it through; be sure to also prioritise it. Set aside the time and schedule a weekly reminder to get through the content until you have finished. It could mean ½ hour each week or setting aside one Saturday and getting it all done at once. Ask someone to keep you accountable to your commitment and check in with you as you progress. 

#3 It’s not relevant! Child trafficking doesn’t happen in Australia, right?


“Every country in the world is affected by human trafficking.” By the end of this course you will begin to understand more about human trafficking, be able to define it, and see the important role Australians have in protecting vulnerable children. 

“As an Australian, I am absolutely shocked and appalled at the statistics I have just been informed of. I was never really aware of the involvement Australia had with child trafficking so this has really saddened me to learn this of my country. It raises the question of how our country got to this statistic and was able to harm this many children.” - course participant

So, why is the Pathway to Preventing Child Trafficking course one that you can,

and should, actually finish? 

One way that you can practically stand up for the rights of children is by learning about the problem so that you are equipped with the knowledge to fight it. Along with the online course we have videos, resources, toolkits, school curriculum and social media posts for you to remain informed and connected.  

After finishing the Pathways course you will get a certificate of completion. More importantly, though, you will add another tool to your ‘kit’ to help fight this huge problem.

For more information visit or sign up for a course.

October 18, 2021 - 1 comment.

Reconciling Our Consumer Habits in the Light of Child Labour

As COVID-19 leaves children in many low-income countries increasingly vulnerable to child labour, it might be time for Australian consumers to address our strongest link to the issue: the products we purchase.

To encourage governments and individuals to right the global injustice of child labour around the world, the United Nations declared 2021 as the Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, with the hope of eradicating it entirely by 2025. [1]International Labour Organisation 2021: International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, Retrieved from

Over the last ten years, we have celebrated a global 38 percent decrease in child labour, yet there remain at least 160 million children in labour around the world. UNICEF, 2021. Child Labour rises to 160 million - first increase in two decades. [2]Retrieved from

This form of labour isn’t to be confused with a weekend or an after-school job, such as many young people have. Child labour is defined as detrimental work that actively deprives children of their education and well-being and, for 79 million children, places them in very precarious conditions in which their very lives and health are at risk.[3]International Labour Organisation and UNICEF (2021). Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, trends and the road forward. Retrieved from … Continue reading

When the United Nations set 2025 as the target deadline for the elimination of child labour, they were not anticipating a global pandemic to be a part of the international narrative. This unforeseen pandemic has had far-reaching effects which have stunted and reversed great progress that had been made in the fight against child labour. Some of the greatest victims of COVID-19’s ramifications are children, who will feel its effects for years to come.

As global poverty is estimated to be on the rise for the first time in over 20 years, children around the world are left increasingly vulnerable.[4]The World Bank (2020). COVID-19 to add as many as 150 million extreme poor by 2021. Retrieved from … Continue reading Many households have become desperate as their local economies struggle, some requiring their children to work to supplement the loss of family income.[5]International Labour Organisation and UNICEF (2021). Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, trends and the road forward. Retrieved from … Continue reading Children in the wake of the pandemic are also vulnerable to traffickers; those who would exploit them into labour for financial gain.

It is estimated that 10 million primary and secondary students, predominantly in low- and middle-income countries, are likely to never return to school, due to the economic turmoil created by the pandemic.[6]Save The Children (2020). Save our Education: Protect every child's right to learn in the COVID-19 response and recovery. Retrieved from … Continue reading As schools close and desperation heightens, the pandemic truly has created the perfect storm for child labour.

And its effects are not trivial; child labour has a profound effect upon the trajectory of a child’s life, as well as the future flourishing of our global neighbours and the world as a whole. When children engage in child labour, deprived of a good education and sound health, they are less likely to be equipped to break the cycle of poverty, allowing it to spill over into the next generation.

It is apparent that child labour aggravates poverty, and poverty aggravates child labour. The use of child labour in low- and middle-income countries stifles their national wages and increases adult unemployment. [7]World Vision. Economic prosperity, one of the keys to ending poverty, seems almost unachievable when poverty and child labour continue to abound within this vicious circle.

How then do we assist our global neighbours in this struggle? According to a study released by Baptist World Aid, 61% of Australians hold a conviction that Australians have a responsibility to support their global neighbours to overcome poverty. [8]Baptist World Aid, 2021. The Australian Ethical Consumer Report. Retrieved from Yet in an issue that is increasingly complex, what part do we have to play? Perhaps we had better address our strongest link to the issue; Australians are mainly connected to the issue of child labour through the products that they consume.

In 2020, the United States' Department of Labor released a report listing the goods that are produced by child labour or forced labour, that are found within global supply chains.[9]Department of Labor,2021. 2020 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Retrieved from href=""

The findings of the report revealed that there were 134 goods produced globally from 76 countries which used child labour within their supply chains. Goods that had the most child labour by number of countries included gold, sugarcane, coffee, tobacco, cotton, and fish, to name a few. The Global Slavery Index found that Australia imports US$12 billion worth of products that are at risk of having been produced by modern slavery, predominantly from China, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Vietnam.[10]Global Slavery Index, 2018. Country Studies: Australia. Retrieved from "" Australia’s shopping ground, Asia-Pacific, is where 62 million children can be found working in conditions of child labour.[11]International Labor Organization, 2021. It's time to eliminate the unacceptable. Together we can end child labour. Retrieved from … Continue readingWhat this means for Australians, according to research, is that even though our consumption habits are strongly linked to child labour, consumers struggle to align their shopping habits with their convictions. 

In July 2021, Baptist World Aid released their Australian Ethical Consumer Report that addressed this disconnect. The report found that 56 per cent of Australians believe that they should consider the impact of their purchasing decisions on people overseas. [12]Baptist World Aid, 2021.The Australian Ethical Consumer Report. Retrieved from href=""> This is great news. Australians are becoming more aware of the importance of ethical consumption, and many want to make more ethical purchasing decisions in the future. Yet, despite this conviction, Social Researcher Sophie Renton suggests that “Australians desire to live for the greater good and make a positive impact but struggle to make the change to live it out in their lives.”[13]Mccrindle, 2019. Why Australians are so caught up in consumerism. Retrieved from href=""

If we acknowledge that child labour is deeply entrenched within our global supply chains and, ultimately within many products that we purchase, does this knowledge conjure enough meaning for us to then change how we consume? Will this awareness help us to turn our beliefs into action? According to survey results from Mccrindle, meaning is the prescribed antidote to our current state of consumerism.[14]Mccrindle, 2019. Consumed: The state of Australian consumerism. Downloaded from"

The Australian refrain: "the standard that you walk past is the standard that you accept" rings true in this context. [15]Prime Minister of Australia, 2018. Press Statement, Canberra.""

When we want our products to be free of child labour, but don’t take any consumer action, we tell our suppliers that as long as it is accessible and affordable, we will buy it. If I don’t want to support child labour, then does that belief reflect itself within my shopping list and my online ‘cart’? 

The onus to eradicate child labour will continue to be laid most heavily upon those who hold positions of power and influence within society, but ultimately, child labour is a global issue that connects us all and should concern us all. To fight for a world free of child labour, we need to recognise the power that Australian consumers have to enact change. The power of the consumer voice and dollar has the ability to push fairness, equality, and economic prosperity through our global supply chains.

To this end, where do we begin? One of the main findings of Baptist World Aid is that Australians do not feel equipped to consume more ethically, the main reason being that they don’t know which products might be made more ethically than others. Education and awareness are key to combating the disconnect we experience between our convictions and our ability to act on them.

There are many tools available to assist us. There are ethical shopping apps such as ‘Good on You,’ ‘End Poverty,’ ‘Sweat and Toil’ and ‘Shop Ethical’ available for download on our devices. There are other creative alternatives to our shopping habits such as buying less, buying second-hand, borrowing items from others, or using what you may already have.

By using these shopping guides and asking more questions, we can effectively communicate to our suppliers that we want our international neighbours to also share in the benefits of globalisation, and that we want products free of the labour of children who should be thriving in school.

As the Year for the Elimination of Child Labour has passed the halfway mark, it is time that Australian consumers start asking more questions about the people behind their products and educate themselves more on their connection to child labour in order to prescribe meaning to their shopping habits. As Australia’s shopping ground accounts for much of the world’s child labour, it is time to clean up our act and lead the way for the global eradication of child labour.

Ultimately, we need to impose more meaning and intention into how we consume. Australians need to give more thought to our shopping habits and respect those who are involved in producing what we consume by placing the appropriate weight on our purchasing decisions.

By being more conscious of the flow-on effect of our decisions, we can start the journey of being more positively connected to the people involved in making our products and, ultimately, we can assist communities around the world in breaking the cycle of poverty and child labour today and for the next generation.




1 International Labour Organisation 2021: International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, Retrieved from
2 Retrieved from
3 International Labour Organisation and UNICEF (2021). Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, trends and the road forward. Retrieved from
4 The World Bank (2020). COVID-19 to add as many as 150 million extreme poor by 2021. Retrieved from
5 International Labour Organisation and UNICEF (2021). Child Labour: Global Estimates 2020, trends and the road forward. Retrieved from
6 Save The Children (2020). Save our Education: Protect every child's right to learn in the COVID-19 response and recovery. Retrieved from
7 World Vision.
8 Baptist World Aid, 2021. The Australian Ethical Consumer Report. Retrieved from
9 Department of Labor,2021. 2020 List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Retrieved from href=""
10 Global Slavery Index, 2018. Country Studies: Australia. Retrieved from ""
11 International Labor Organization, 2021. It's time to eliminate the unacceptable. Together we can end child labour. Retrieved from
12 Baptist World Aid, 2021.The Australian Ethical Consumer Report. Retrieved from href="">
13 Mccrindle, 2019. Why Australians are so caught up in consumerism. Retrieved from href=""
14 Mccrindle, 2019. Consumed: The state of Australian consumerism. Downloaded from"
15 Prime Minister of Australia, 2018. Press Statement, Canberra.""