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Dutton pushes child sex offender register

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Peter Dutton, Federal Minister for Home Affairs is seen during a press conference in Brisbane, Wednesday, January 2, 2019. (AAP Image/Darren England) 

Families would be safer if Australian child sex offenders were publicly listed online, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says.

The federal government is urging states to sign up to a national child sex offender register, with consultations on the proposal now underway.

The push comes after reports to the Australian Federal Police of child sexual abuse and exploitation grew by 77 per cent between 2017 and 2018.

Mr Dutton said a national register would help deter offenders and ensure parents were not "in the dark" about whether registered sex offenders had access to their children.

"It will send a clear message that Australia will not tolerate individuals preying on the most vulnerable members of the community - our children," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The abuse and exploitation of children is a global epidemic that is becoming more prevalent, more organised and more extreme.

"Thwarting that exploitation is a key priority for me as minister for home affairs."

The online register would contain information such as the person's name, photograph, aliases, date of birth, nature of offending and their general locality, such as their postcode.

But the information would be provided by the states, meaning the register couldn't work unless they back it.

"I look forward to working with state and territory government and key non-government stakeholders on this important initiative," Mr Dutton said.

The information would be vetted by law enforcement to ensure it did not identify victims of abuse or breach non-publication orders and juvenile sex offenders would not be identified

Independent Victorian senator and long-term anti-pedophile campaigner Derryn Hinch said people were entitled to know about child sex offenders in their area.

"This is the only reason I got into politics," he told ABC Radio National on Wednesday.

"Out there in the public, you talk to the parents of young kids and they support it. I think the government's doing a fantastic thing by bringing this out now."

He said a national child sex offender register in the United States, established in 1996, hadn't encouraged vigilantes.

© AAP 2019