What is ‘grooming’?

Grooming is a criminal offence in Victoria as per Section 49B of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and concerns predatory conduct undertaken to prepare a child for sexual activity at a later time.

The offence applies where an adult communicates, by words or conduct, with a child under the age of 16 years or with a person who has care, supervision or authority for the child with the intention of facilitating the child’s involvement in sexual conduct, either with the groomer or another adult.

Grooming does not necessarily involve any sexual activity or even discussion of sexual activity – for example, it may only involve establishing a relationship with the child, parent or carer for the purpose of facilitating sexual activity at a later time.

​The sexual conduct must constitute an indictable sexual offence. This includes offences such as sexual penetration of a child, indecent assault and indecent act in the presence of a child.  It does not include summary offences, such as upskirting and indecent behaviour in public.

Who can commit the offence?

​The offence can be committed by any person aged 18 years or over. It does not apply to communication between people who are both under 18 years of age.
What age are the children who are protected by the offence?

The offence applies to communication with children under 16 years, but not communication with 16 and 17 year old children. This distinction between children aged below 16 and those aged 16 or 17 reflects the general age of consent (16 years) recognised by the criminal law in relation to sexual offences.

What is the penalty for grooming?

​The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment.

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