Former council worker admits child abuse offences in Australia

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Ben Waters, 38, had previously worked as a policy assistant at Redbridge Council. - Credit: Ken Mears

A former Redbridge Council staffer who moved back to Australia to work for a Labor MP has pleaded guilty to child abuse offences in Adelaide. 

Ben Waters, 38, was arrested on March 30 by the South Australian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team following an investigation by state and federal police. 

As reported by The Australian, Mr Waters appeared on Monday (July 12) at Adelaide Magistrates Court, where he pleaded guilty to accessing and transmitting child abuse material using a carriage service in January. 

He also admitted two counts of possessing child exploitation material in March, including images and videos of children under the age of 14. 

Waters worked at Redbridge Council between March 2016 and May 2019, as an executive policy officer in council leader Jas Athwal’s office. 

Redbridge Council claimed that Waters had misrepresented his role as being head of office to the leader's office on LinkedIn.

At the time of his being charged, a council spokesperson said: “The council is aware of the police charges in Australia against Ben Waters. 

"Mr Waters was a council employee between 2016 and 2019 therefore, we have notified our local authority designated officer who will liaise with the police on behalf of the council. 

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"We are shocked by the news of these charges and, of course, stand ready to cooperate fully with any investigation.” 

The LinkedIn profile also lists him as having worked as a campaigner in the Ilford North election from February to March 2015. 

After returning to Australia, he served as an advisor to Hurtle Vale MP Nat Cook.

At the time of his arrest, the Australian parliament member said that she was “shocked” to hear of his charges. 

Ms Cook said that when made aware of the charges, she requested that his employment be immediately terminated and understood that he was expelled from the Labor Party. 

In a statement after his guilty plea, Ms Cook said: “I trust that this will enable justice to be served as quickly as possible.  

“My thoughts have been and will continue to be with victims and their families affected by these abhorrent acts.” 

Waters remains on home detention bail and is due to appear in the District Court this September.

An earlier version of this article reported Redbridge Council as stating Waters had never worked in the leader’s office.

The council has since said this information was provided in error and the article has been updated to reflect this.