A former Wagga abuse counsellor has welcomed new laws for mandatory minimum sentences for child sex abuse because of the "massive" issue of online grooming in the Riverina.
Federal Parliament last week amended laws to ensure a person will spend at least five years in jail for using communications services to procure a child for sexual activity if convicted.
Kay Humphreys retired from Linden Place last year after decades of providing counselling to children and adolescents who had been sexually abused.
"Online grooming is absolutely massive," she said.
"A lot of the teenagers I saw before I retired were getting groomed via Snapchat [self-deleting message app] by guys pretending to get their age trying to get them to send photos," she said.
"They thought that the photos would disappear, but they were always shared and there was also blackmail going on as well."
Ms Humphreys said she was not sure the prospect of longer jail sentences would stop many offenders but said "even if it deters one person, it's good".
The bill also increases maximum jail terms for many offences under federal law such as traveling overseas to abuse children.
Riverina MP Michael McCormack said the new sentencing regime was needed to protect children and prevent abuse.
"I say this as a responsible representative of the community and as a father of three - the protection of our children should be our utmost priority no matter where they live," he said.
"Unfortunately, the Riverina is not immune to these terrible criminal acts against our vulnerable children which is why this legislation is so important to further protect them," Mr McCormack said.
"We also owe it to previous victims of these crimes to do our very best to stamp out this abhorrent behaviour."
The national peak body for lawyers, the Law Council, said giving judges discretion over sentences was "essential".
Law Council president Pauline Wright said an 18-year-old "would face a mandatory five-year sentence" for exchanging intimate photos while in a relationship with a 15-year-old.
Mr McCormack said the the legislation did "not target relationships between consenting young persons" and "the offences need to have specific characteristics, such as deceit".
Labor Senator Deborah O'Neill, declined to comment on the bill, which her party supported despite its policy against mandatory minimum sentences.