Newsletter December 2021

Commander Hilda Sirec
Commander Hilda Sirec

We made it! I know I am not the only one acknowledging what a challenging year 2021 has been. But as I reflect on our achievements, as individuals and as a collective, I am heartened that the ACCCE values of partnership and collaboration are evident in everything we have done.

A prime example of this is the recent stakeholder workshops undertaken to inform the ACCCE Strategic Plan 2022-2026. These exhaustive sessions brought together many of our key partners and clearly demonstrated to me how far the ACCCE has come in just three years of operation. There is still much work to be done and I want to thank each and every one of our stakeholders for their valuable contribution. The ACCCE would not be what it is without you.

As is often the case when the end of year rolls around, our members have been fortunate to attend and host many noteworthy events including the Australian Federal Police Northern Command Stakeholder event held at the ACCCE, the Bravehearts ThankShoe Awards, the Australasian Council of Women and Policing Excellence in Policing Awards, Walk for Daniel, the Australian Podcast Awards and more. These events signify the hard work and dedication shown by our members and our broader stakeholder group. Well done to those who were honoured and nominated for awards!

Operationally, our Victim Identification team continues to make significant in-roads through collaboration with our national and international law enforcement partners. The Victim Identification Taskforce has proven to be a valuable forum that has already led to meaningful results, identifying offenders and removing victims from harm.

It is with much gratitude and a little sadness that we say farewell to Detective Superintendent Christopher Woods who departs his ACCCE Operations role to take on a new role in Counter Terrorism. Thank you Chris for all that you have accomplished at the ACCCE, we wish you all the best as you make your way home to Canberra. An announcement regarding Detective Superintendent Woods’ replacement will be made early in the new year.

I have only touched the surface of the content in this edition but read on for the latest in our partner news, communications and engagement, ACCCE operating procedures and our last Face of the ACCCE for the year.

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope you see you in person in 2022.

Stay safe!



What's next for the ACCCE?

ACCCE strategic plan

Planning for the ACCCE Strategic Plan 2022-2026 is well underway with four in-depth consultation sessions recently held with partner agencies, state and territory police, not-for-profit partners and internal stakeholders. 

During the 4-hour, virtual workshops, participants shared their views and experiences of the ACCCE and the future of the organisation to shape the strategic plan. Discussion covered the strengths of the ACCCE as well as areas for improvement.

Stakeholders were unanimous in their view of the importance of partnership and collaboration in all aspects of the ACCCE’s activities, both operational and in the prevention and engagement space.

Thank you to all those that contributed, your perceptions and insights will shape the next phase of the ACCCE as we continue to strive towards the vision of Children free from exploitation. Outcomes of the workshops and the draft Strategic Plan will be circulated in early 2022.

Thank you to all of our partners

Attendees at stakeholder event

On Thursday 18 November, Assistant Commissioner Northern Command was pleased to host an end of year stakeholder event with a range of our law enforcement, government, NGO and community partners. Held at the ACCCE, this was an opportunity to say thank you to our partners for their outstanding contribution this year and ongoing support.

The ACCCE acknowledged for excellence in research

The ACCCE, together with the Australian Federal Police, has been recognised by the Australasian Council of Women and Policing (ACWAP) with a Highly Commended Award in the category of Excellence in Research on Improving Law Enforcement for Women at this year’s ACWAP Excellence in Policing Awards.

Held on 25 November 2021, the awards are an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and reward the achievements of women and men who are contributing to improving policing and law enforcement and ensuring policing services are enhanced for women in our communities.

In acknowledgement of the Triage Referral and Investigative Support Tool developed in partnership with University of Queensland partners David Mount and Lorraine Mazerolle, the Excellence in Research on Improving Law Enforcement for Women Award seeks to recognise the importance of quality research that supports the advancement of law enforcement.

Congratulations to all of the outstanding recipients at the ACWAP Awards and the incredible contribution they make to the advancement of women in policing.

Keeping children safe is everyone's responsibility

In response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the AFP has launched the Child Safe Handbook.

The Handbook outlines the AFP’s approach to ensuring a child safe culture and practice in the AFP, and how the organisation can manage the risk to young people in day to day operations.

It is everyone’s responsibility within the AFP to treat children and young people with respect. The Handbook guides members through specific child safe requirements related to work such as recruitment, procurement of child safe services, training, requirements to engage with children, and mandatory reporting.

Well done to the team for instituting such a significant and important piece of work. It’s now up to all of us to maintain the safety and wellbeing of children in everything we do.

ACCCE engagement

University of Queensland student research

Congratulations to our 2021 University of Queensland research program students Ashley Elson-Green and Mia Fairbrother who have recently completed their Honours research reports.

The ACCCE is proud to partner with the University of Queensland’s Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Honours program. Each year, two Honours students from this program work with the ACCCE to release and showcase research into online child abuse material offenders.

This year, the research explores the following topics:

Learn more about the 2021 findings, the 2020 research and more research and statistics on the ACCCE website: 

We look forward to welcoming the 2022 students in the new year.

Funny feelings aren't funny

‘Funny Feelings Aren’t Funny’ is an educational book written for children aged 3-8 years to assist them to communicate their feelings in situations where they may be feeling nervous, anxious or unsafe.

Written by Kim May, the book follows a series of gender-neutral and non-race-specific gingerbread characters in a variety of situations where they experience an array of physiological reactions, such as ‘wobbly knees’, ‘butterflies in the stomach’ or a ‘pounding heart’. 

This book will assist children to make the link that if they have a ’Funny Feeling’ then something may not be ok. Find out more at 

Bravehearts ThankShoe Award

ACCCE members were privileged to attend the Bravehearts annual ThankShoe Awards night and delighted to receive an Honorary Award for contribution to the protection, empowerment and education of Australian children.

Congratulations to Detective Inspector Jon Rouse APM for being awarded an Honorary award who was joined at the event alongside Commander Hilda Sirec.

International Men's Day

On Friday 19 November 2021, Detective Inspector Jon Rouse delivered a keynote address at an International Men’s Day event for Small Steps 4 Hannah, a not-for-profit organisation established to end the cycle of domestic and family violence in Australia. Detective Inspector Rouse was joined by Hetty Johnson of Bravehearts.

An extraordinary contribution

The ACCCE recently virtually attended the three-day Europol EC3 Annual Experts Meeting hosted in The Hague. The Queensland Police Service, Victim Identification team and Operations Managers were privileged to deliver two presentations to the group.

The ACCCE also joined the international child protection community in honouring Cathal Delaney for his dedication to child protection and contribution to the work of the ACCCE as he departs Europol for a new role.

Cathal was integral to the establishment of the ACCCE, the launch of the Stop Child Abuse – Trace an Object initiative in Australia and convening the very first Victim Identification Taskforce.

Thank you Cathal for your support and best wishes for your next endeavour!

Partner news

ThinkUKnow Australia

It’s been a busy time for ThinkUKnow Australia with the reinvigoration of their presentation videos for parents, carers, educators and students. Topics discussed in the presentations raise awareness about online child sexual exploitation including:

•    Privacy and preventing inappropriate contact
•    Sharing personal information
•    Online grooming
•    Self-generated content
•    Image-based abuse
•    Sexual extortion
•    Signs of online child sexual exploitation
•    Taking action
•    How to get help and report.

All ThinkUKnow Australia presentations are delivered free of charge by volunteers from law enforcement and industry. Thanks to those who have taken part in producing these amazing new videos!

Request a ThinkUKnow presentation at

To coincide with International Volunteers Day, ThinkUKnow Australia has released their Corporate Report, highlighting the amazing work from our police and industry partners delivering online child safety education to the community. For more info visit

Online safety guides for the festive season

While the holidays can be busy for parents and carers, taking the time to understand the features of devices, apps and games your children are using – particularly whether there is an internet connection – is important for keeping them safe.

The ACCCE and ThinkUKnow Australia have together launched a guide to help parents and carers minimise the risk of inappropriate contact and online child sexual exploitation on popular devices. The guide covers strategies and options for parental controls that parents and carers can implement at home.

To view the guide visit

Each year, the eSafety Commissioner also releases a gift guide that explores the latest games, apps and social media and includes information on what to look out for when using them.

Ms Inman Grant highlighted that many gaming products do have safety features embedded in their products and parents and carers should look out for these features before making a Christmas purchase for their child.


The ACCCE is thrilled to congratulate Bravehearts on recently being granted the Bronze Community Award at the Australian Crime and Prevention Awards.

The award recognises Turning Corners (QLD). Turning Corners allows Bravehearts to offer a holistic approach to preventing child sexual assault in society. This includes providing education and therapeutic support to young people who have or are at risk of engaging in harmful sexual behaviour.

Act for Kids

Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale and Commander ACCCE & Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec recently visited the Wooloowin Act for Kids Centre to learn more about their facilities, the work they do and the trends they're seeing.

Understanding their role in providing support and therapeutic care to children effected by child sexual exploitation is vital for our work at the ACCCE.

The ACCCE has also recently partnered with Act for Kids on the #StopTheStigma campaign, which encourages opening the discussion, reporting abuse and seeking support. Thank you to Act for Kids CEO Katrina Lines and the team for facilitating this meaningful visit.

To learn more about Act for Kids and the important work they do, including their Christmas Imaginary Toy Store initiative, visit 

Walk for Daniel

On 29 October 2021, our dedicated team were up bright and early to take part in the annual Walk for Daniel. We are proud to take part in this amazing event each year!

Well done to the incredible crew at the Daniel Morcombe Foundation for making this event happen. Another great turnout and no doubt next year will be an even bigger sea of red.

Neighbourhood Watch Australasia community service announcements

Neighbourhood Watch Australasia (NHWA) has worked in conjunction with national and local television broadcast organisations to create a series of five Community Service Announcements (CSAs).

The CSAs aim to promote community awareness of personal safety and security – simple steps we can take to help protect ourselves and those around us. The 5 CSAs cover a wide range of content, including crime reporting, online safety, personal safety, vehicle and home security. 
The CSAs are designed to:

  • Create safer communities by promoting crime prevention messaging, reporting suspicious behaviour, and the benefits of joining Neighbourhood Watch.
  • Enhance community safety and security by building greater individual and community resilience and safe behaviours.
  • Increase feelings and perceptions of personal safety and confidence in public spaces.

View the CSAs at 

NHWA has also recently released their final journal edition of the year, featuring local stories across Australia and New Zealand. Read the journal here

Alannah & Madeline Foundation

Playing IT Safe

Playing IT Safe helps early childhood educators and parents teach young children about digital technology and online safety using play-based approaches. Educators use the resource to create play environments that support children to develop the skills and knowledge to use technology and stay safe online in ways appropriate to their age and stage of development.

Playing IT Safe was developed out of research that indicates many young children are online before they start school, and an early intervention approach can help to better support them and their families to both manage risk, and gain the benefits that technology has to offer as a young child, but also into the future. 

Playing IT Safe is a joint initiative of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation (the Foundation), the AFP and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

Gandel Philanthropy supported the Foundation with a grant to pilot a series of early childhood educator professional development workshops in how to effectively apply Playing IT Safe to teach children about what the internet is, how messages and photos are shared and who to go to if they feel scared or need help when using technology.

Find out more at 

New National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse

Work to establish the new National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse is underway after it was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 21 October 2021. 

Blue Knot Foundation, The Healing Foundation and the Australian Childhood Foundation have been selected by the Federal Government to drive the National Centre.

Board Chair for the new body, Dr Joe Tucci, said the National Centre will commission critical research, raise community awareness, reduce stigma, and provide training to support improved responses to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse – and prevent it from occurring in the first place. 

“The National Centre will give voice to the experiences of survivors of all ages, life stages and communities. It will work in collaboration with major research institutions in Australia, representatives from state and commonwealth governments, service providers, schools, and law enforcement agencies.”

“We are currently building a team, led by experienced CEO Craig Hodges, establishing a virtual presence for the National Centre and preparing to work with stakeholders to co-design the name and branding for the new body.”

ACCCE news

ACCCE communications update

Closing The Net recognised in Australian Podcast Awards

Podcast awards red carpet

The ACCCE and AFP were proud to attend the Australian Podcast Awards in December where the Closing The Net podcast was recognised as a finalist for Best Documentary Podcast. The ACCCE Strategic Engagement Team was joined by Detective Superintendent Craig Bellis and podcast participant, Federal Agent Brendan Hayler. It was a fantastic event, congratulations to all of the winners on the night!

Striving for diversity and inclusiveness

In an effort to provide accurate and meaningful advice and support for our Culturally and Linguistically Diverse audiences, the ACCCE website in now available in the language of your choice. The translate tool can be used to translate all website content into 108 different languages.

Watch this space

The ACCCE continues to broaden its suite of communication assets and channels to support its efforts to combat online child sexual exploitation. Keep an eye out for the new ACCCE billboard, ACCCE animations and children’s book in early 2022.

Child sexual abuse categorisation schema

A revised instrument used to categorise child abuse material has been implemented by the AFP. The Australian Child Abuse Categorisation Schema replaces what was formerly known as the AFP 4 Tier Categorisation System.

The update to the instrument has been made to: 

•    Enable reliable and uniform assessment of material encountered by Australian authorities
•    provide an enhanced ability to collate and analyse child abuse material
•    have a faster and more consistent categorisation model throughout Australia
•    align the AFP’s categorisation model with international law enforcement agencies
•    provide improved ability to identify children at risk
•    reduce AFP appointee’s exposure to child abuse material.

Victim Identification Taskforce Update

Due to the increasing severity and volume of self-produced child exploitation material and capping offences, the ACCCE recently hosted its second Victim Identification Taskforce. The day brought together Victim Identification specialists from the ACCCE, Queensland Police Taskforce Argos and South Australian Police.

The Taskforce saw 65 actionable referrals made to state and territory police and several children removed from harm with investigators eagerly awaiting more results.

Manager Covert Online, Victim Identification and Training for the ACCCE, Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said the focus of the Taskforce was to triage the seized data to eliminate previously identified and unidentified cases, then commence investigations into material that law enforcement had not previously seen.

With such encouraging results, planning for the next Taskforce is already underway.

Digital Field Triage Training

Members of the ACCCE forensics team recently delivered the Digital Field Triage training to Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams, Queensland Police Service Teams and members from the Northern Territory in Cairns. This long-term project has been a significant undertaking for the teams and has further application and benefits for other crime types.

The Pilot delivery of the new National Investigator Digital Field Triage Training aims to upskill investigators to confidently triage Digital Devices in the field. The four day course culminates in a day of practical use in the field during a scheduled Search Warrant. Detective A/Sergeant Shane Ferguson said the course was a great success and very much appreciated by participants.

Face of the ACCCE: Madi White


Tell us about your role in the ACCCE

I am a senior policy officer of our ACCCE Strategy and Development team. I have been with the team for about six months now. Our team works with the operational members of the ACCCE, as well as AFP Child Protection Operations to inform policy and strategic decisions, whilst working with key partner agencies such as Home Affairs and National Office for Child Safety, as well as internal AFP stakeholders.

What skills are you eager to contribute to the ACCCE?

I like to think I am quite a team player, which I believe is extra important when working in this crime type. I am looking forward to working closely with the teams to ensure our policy and strategic direction is fit for purpose and meaningful.

What would you like to achieve in the next 12 months within ACCCE?

Given I am still relatively new to this crime type I would love to further develop my skills and understanding on the operational side of house, which would ultimately allow me to do my current role better. Our team are key supporters to the operational frontline members at the ACCCE, therefore the better I understand their role the better I can support them, whether that be through capability uplift, legislative reform, enhancing our strategic partnerships or development on and for the centre.

Who do you look up to? 

When I first joined the AFP I was and executive assistant to an incredible lady who understood to be an incredible leader you need to understand your people and give your people your time. Her grace, integrity and drive is something I definitely look up to and continue to aspire for.

If you weren't working in Child Protection, what would you be doing instead?

I think I will find myself working in gynaecology or the clinical Pilates space. I find the human body extremely fascinating so a job that delves deep into the body, why we are how we are and provide a better understand so more people can work with their bodies as opposed to against them I think I would love.

If you could invite one person to work at the ACCCE who would it be?

I don’t have one person in particular, however I would love to see more psychologist and behaviourist join the team at the ACCCE to help bolster our capability. We already have psychologist imbedded at the ACCCE from a staffing welfare perspective, however I think there is great skills they could bring to the table from a more operational position.

Favourite song, book or movie—and why?

This is a hard one as I have never been one to have a favourite movie or song, however I do have a favourite TV show which I believe to be the best of all time, and that is Friends.  I have seen every episode probably ten times and I still love it! It makes me smile.

Words of advice for people concerned about online child exploitation?

Please educate yourself! Educate yourself and those around you so you can be more alert and vigilant to what is going on online. Awareness is absolute key when it comes to this crime type and it is a topic that we should all be aware of, no matter how confronting we find it. And for parents, have regular conversations with your children and build trust. You need them to know you are on their side and they can come to you for anything.

Upcoming events

December 12: Human Rights Day
January 24: Carly's Day
February 8: Safer Internet Day