Newsletter June 2022

Commander Hilda Sirec
Commander Hilda Sirec

Foreword Commander Sirec

Working in this crime type provides the ACCCE unique insights into criminal trends and the issues children face in the online world. Our intelligence drives our operational response as well as our prevention and education efforts aimed at protecting children from harm. This intelligence is shared with our partners locally and across the world so together we can combat this heinous crime. 

Following a recent spike in the number of Australian boys being sexually extorted, the ACCCE and the AFP's Online Child Safety Team delivered some important messaging to the Australian public about this trend and the importance of reporting to law enforcement. I urged parents and carers to be vigilant, to support victims and to report to us knowing that the police are here to investigate these crimes and that victims will not be in any trouble for reporting. Please consider how you can share this important message in your own networks. 

Members of the ACCCE and AFP Northern Command Executive travelled to Cambodia for the Child Sexual Exploitation Regional Dialogue, and to London for the Virtual Global Taskforce in May. These opportunities to connect with our international counterparts are invaluable in our efforts to combat online child sexual exploitation.

Congratulations to our Victim Identification Team for hosting the third Victim Identification Taskforce at the ACCCE. These initiatives are so powerful. This time more than one million media files were reviewed, and 13 victims of online child sexual exploitation were identified. A further 17 cases were referred to national and international counterparts working in child protection. An excellent result. 

I am pleased to announce our ACCCE Podcast ‘Closing the Net’ won Silver at the New York Festivals 2022 Radio Awards in the Narrative/Documentary Podcast category. A tremendous acknowledgement of the hard work undertaken by all the teams and partners that took part in the series. I'd highly recommend tuning in!

It was wonderful to see some of our members attend the Bravehearts Ball in May, not only showing our commitment to one of our partners, but also helping to raise funds for programs aligned to countering child sexual abuse.

I’ve been fortunate to meet with a number of important partners in recent months. Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale and I visited the Bravehearts Head Office on the Gold Coast, to continue to learn more about the important work they do. Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling and I also met virtually with the CEO of PartnerSPEAK to look at ongoing collaborations to support non-offending partners and family members of online offenders, and discuss the training modules which PartnerSPEAK will be rolling out to law enforcement nationally. We also welcomed the Principal Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission to the ACCCE to discuss how we can work together and protect children.

And lastly, Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling is our Face of the ACCCE for this edition. Jayne talks about what she brings to the ACCCE including her integral role in the establishment of the ThinkUKnow program 12 years ago.




Child sex offenders preying on Australian boys for money

Image of online sextortion kit


The ACCCE is warning that Australia is seeing a global trend in the crime of sexual extortion, with a spike in the number of Australian boys being preyed on by international sex offenders, who are grooming them into producing explicit images and then extorting them for money.

In June, the ACCCE took the unusual step of releasing police intelligence to warn Australian parents and carers of the emerging risk. These reports involving boys have more than quadrupled between mid-2021 and this year, driven by a sharp rise in offshore offenders targeting Australian boys for financial gain.

Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec said while coercing and blackmailing minors for sexually-explicit videos and images was not new – it was previously very rare for police to receive reports about offenders demanding money from children.

“Tactics can vary, but child sex offenders commonly pose as girls and befriend boys via social media platforms, image-sharing apps or online games,” Commander Sirec said. 

“Once the pair connected, the ‘girl’ would request they communicate privately and engage in sexualised conversations before sending explicit images of her fake self, often sourced from a victim of previous offending. The boy would then be asked to send nude images or videos in return.

Commander Sirec said the predator might also manipulate the boy into engaging in explicit activity on camera, which they secretly recorded. 

“These predators then reveal they have footage of the child in compromising positions and demand money in return for not sharing the vision with family and friends or posting it online,” Commander Sirec said.

“We have seen predators initially demanding an impossibly large sum of money, then negotiating with the victim on a lower amount they could actually pay.

“Once that money was paid – either by bank transfer, online game, gift cards or even cryptocurrency – the predator would demand even more money. They are not deterred by the age of the victim; they care only about the profit they can make.”

The ACCCE’s international law enforcement partners are also seeing an increase in the number of boys being blackmailed for money.

Commander Sirec said authorities were issuing the warning to urge victims to seek help and report the crime, and that they will not be in trouble for coming forward.

“These crimes have devastating effects on children and their families,” Commander Sirec said.  “These offenders are very manipulative and will threaten and frighten children to get what they want, including telling victims they will be in trouble with law enforcement if they speak up.

“We are appealing to parents and carers to talk to their children about online safety, how to recognise suspicious behaviour online and to speak out if they have been targeted.

“If your child is or has been a victim, reassure them that it's not their fault and that there is help available. By reporting what has happened, they may help us catch an offender and prevent other children being harmed."

Warning signs could include inconsistences with an online profile or language, meeting on one app and then being encouraged to continue a conversation on a different platform, or the person claiming their webcam or microphone was not working for video calls.

The Australian Federal Police ThinkUKnow program has developed a new resource for young people on how to recognise and respond to this method of sexual extortion. 

The Online blackmail and sexual extortion response kit includes key indicators that an online interaction may be a sign of sexual extortion using de-identified reports from the ACCCE, as well as how to get help and support. More information is available at

If you are a victim of this crime:

  • Avoid sending any more images;
  • Collect evidence such as screenshots of conversations and make a report to police;
  • Don’t blame yourself and speak to someone you trust for advice and support. This could be a friend, sibling, trusted adult or support service;
  • Change your passwords for all online accounts and review your privacy and security settings.

If you think a child is in immediate danger call Triple Zero, Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or your local police.

Cases of sexual extortion involving children (under the age of 18) can be reported to the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation at


ACCCE engagement

Victim Identification Taskforce III

VID Taskforce


More than one million media files were reviewed, and 13 victims of online child sexual exploitation identified during the Victim Identification Taskforce III recently. 

Specialists from law enforcement jurisdictions across Australia, New Zealand as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), met at the ACCCE to collaboratively review seized child abuse material and information-share at the taskforce. 

A further 17 cases were referred to national and international counterparts working in child protection.

“Participants gain many insights, including a better understanding of the victim identification workflow and the skills required to analyse media and research its origins, as well as the opportunity to use the tools available, particularly the Australian Victim Identification Database that they will be expected to contribute to back in their own jurisdictions,” ACCCE Operations and VID Manager Detective Inspector Jon Rouse said.

“The taskforce reinforces a victim-focused approach and helps to instil that into all aspects of online child protection investigations across the country.

"This, above all, ensures that all Australian law enforcement agencies will endeavour to make the best use of all seized material to identify as many child victims as possible.”

Homeland Security Investigations visit the ACCCE

HSI visit


A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Phoenix delegation visited the ACCCE on 28 and 29 April. 

On the back of New South Wales Police and AFP operations in Sydney, Assistant Special Agent Timothy Lenzen led the HSI delegation to the ACCCE. He was accompanied by the HSI Liaison Officer Brian Wakefield and five agents. 

The HSI delegation was given a tour of the ACCCE and provided ACCCE Operations with briefings concerning ongoing investigations and new areas of collaboration. 

ACCCE Operations Detective Superintendent Glyn Lewis said the meetings were very productive and further reinforced the strong working relationship the ACCCE has with HSI in preventing, investigating, and disrupting online child exploitation.

Child Sexual Exploitation Regional Dialogue a success

Group photo at CSERD


The ACCCE, Australian Federal Police and the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) met in Siem Reap, Cambodia from 24-26 May for the second Child Sexual Exploitation Regional Dialogue (CSERD). 

Child sexual exploitation is a global crime that requires a global response, with collaboration and cooperation essential between all partner agencies. 

CSERD enhances awareness with Southeast Asian partners and encourages a regional collaborative approach to child sexual exploitation with a further objective of enhancing capability development to combat child exploitation in the region.

The dialogue discussed policing during the COVID-19 pandemic and reflected on the progression of the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC).

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) gave a presentation on different approaches to manage CyberTip line reports of child sexual exploitation.

The dialogue highlighted the importance of collaboration between foreign law enforcement to combat travelling child sex offenders, offering case studies on the topic, as well as ways to improve investigation techniques and information sharing between partner agencies. 

CSERD emphasised the high value of non-government partners in combatting this crime type.

We look forward to further collaborating with our international partners to combat child sexual exploitation on a global scale.

Virtual Global Taskforce

Virtual Global Taskforce


Members of the ACCCE leadership team, Commander Hilda Sirec and Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling, participated at the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) in London from 25-27 May.

The VGT is an international alliance of dedicated law enforcement agencies from 12 countries working together to tackle the global threat from child sexual abuse.  

It was established as a direct response to the rise in offenders targeting children all over the world through online social interactions and travelling overseas to commit contact sexual abuse. 

All members of the VGT attended, with representation from Five Eyes partners including the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations and New Zealand Police, as well as law enforcement from a range of countries, including the Philippines, Kenya and Colombia.

They heard presentations from the Internet Watch Foundation, Ofcom and Microsoft, plus a number of government and international organisations, on their respective work to confront offenders operating on social media platforms.

Thank you to VGT chair National Crime Agency for hosting such an informative and collaborative session.


Partner news

Bravehearts Ball a night to remember

Bravehearts Ball


Some of our members had the opportunity to support one of our important and valued partners by attending the annual Bravehearts Ball in May. 

Bravehearts provides child protection training and educational programs, specialist child sexual abuse counselling and support services, as well as lobbying for law reform and supporting research into child sexual abuse.

We work with Bravehearts on strategic prevention planning, as well as collaborating on the Stop the Stigma campaign and sharing cross promotional fundraising and awareness activities throughout the year.

Well done to all involved at Bravehearts for another great night supporting Child Protection.

ACCCE members visit Bravehearts HQ

Bravehearts visit


AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale, Commander Hilda Sirec and members of the ACCCE visited the Bravehearts Office on the Gold Coast in June, to learn more about the services they provide to victims and family members affected by child sexual abuse.

Bravehearts provides child protection training and education programs, specialist child sexual abuse and exploitation counselling and support services, and engages in research.

The ACCCE members learnt more about the different programs Bravehearts run, including their Turning Corners Program for youths aged 12-17 who exhibit harmful sexual behaviours.

Assistant Commissioner Gale said that learning about the work of organisations like Bravehearts is essential to our ongoing partnerships within the child protection space.

“The education, research, advocacy and therapeutic services provided by Bravehearts is vital to combatting child sexual exploitation,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said. 

Bravehearts have been a key supporter of the ACCCE since its inception, and continues to provide significant support to ACCCE initiatives. The AFP also provides support to Bravehearts fundraising activities, such as the Bravehearts 777 Run, Bravehearts Ball and Bravehearts Day (previously known as White Balloon Day).

Learn more about Bravehearts and the important work they do.

Principal Commissioner for Qld Family and Child Commission visits the ACCCE

QFCC visits the ACCCE


In June, Principal Commissioner for the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) Luke Twyford, visited the AFP-led Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE). 

Commander Hilda Sirec, Superintendent Jayne Crossling and Team Leader Dannielle Kelly provided Mr Twyford with a tour of the ACCCE and spoke of the important work being undertaken within the specialist command based in Brisbane.

Commander Sirec described the meeting as an important opportunity to discuss how the ACCCE and QFCC can continue to work together to protect children.

“Meeting with Mr Twyford highlights the valued partnership between child protection organisations such as the Queensland Family and Child Commission and the ACCCE.”

The QFCC works collaboratively with government and non-government partners, and families and communities, to help ensure young Queenslanders grow up in safe and inclusive environments where they are valued and supported to reach their full potential. 

Mr Twyford joined the QFCC as Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner in January 2022.

Neighbourhood Watch Australasia delivers Digital Mentor Sessions

NHWA Digital Mentor Program


Neighbourhood Watch Australasia (NHWA) has been running Digital Mentor training sessions in partnership with Be Connected Australia since 2018. 

Be Connected has recognised there are 2.5 million Australians who are not online, and four million people in Australia with limited digital skills. 

Having little knowledge of the internet and technology can be very isolating and can make people more vulnerable to online scams. By training mentors to go into their community and share their knowledge, NHWA aims to improve the online safety of older Australians and reduce feelings of isolation. 

During the Digital Mentor training session, mentors are trained to help those taking their first steps using technology and the internet, through improving basic digital skills and allowing them to gain confidence online. 

There are no requirements to become a Digital Mentor, except a basic understanding of technology. NHWA has so far trained hundreds of mentors and hope to train many more!

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, or to find out more visit NHWA.

ThinkUKnow rolls out national training

ThinkUKnow delivers training


After a partial pause of face-to-face presentations due to COVID-19, the AFP Online Child Safety Team was back on the road delivering ThinkUKnow presentation training for volunteers and presenters across Australia in May and June.

Over the course of eight weeks, the team has delivered training to AFP, State and Territory police and industry presenters nationally as well as having hosted virtual training sessions.

To broaden the reach, some of the areas included in this year’s training rollout have included Mount Gambier, Port Augusta, Alice Springs, Albany, Katanning, Cairns and Mackay.

This national training is an important part of the ThinkUKnow program. It provides presenters and volunteers with key educational messaging, updated case studies and research to equip them with the skills needed to educate the community about online child sexual exploitation. 

Despite the challenges and restrictions faced during COVID-19, in 2020-21 the AFP and State and Territory police delivered 2,226 presentations to more than 196,680 students across Australia. The AFP and volunteers from industry and law enforcement delivered 25 presentations to 1,460 parents, carers and teachers.

To request a presentation for your school or organisation, visit 

ACCCE news

ACCCE Podcast ‘Closing the Net’ wins Silver at New York Radio Awards

ACCCE wins Silver


The ACCCE is adding yet another feather in its cap with the podcast series ‘Closing The Net’ winning Silver at the New York Festivals 2022 Radio Awards in the Narrative/Documentary Podcast category.

The awards program honours and promotes the exceptional and innovative content being created on all continents and seen across all platforms.

The winners were announced on 26 April at the Storytellers Gala Virtual Event.

Out of 15 categories in the Podcast field, ‘Closing The Net’ was a nominee then finalist in the Narrative/Documentary section. The AFP’s first podcast was ranked among some of the world’s most popular podcasts from the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Ireland. The winner of the ‘Grand prize’ in the category was the BBC’s critically-acclaimed podcast ‘Have you heard George’s podcast’ from George the Poet.

‘Closing The Net’ is a podcast series that for the very first time takes you inside the world of the Australian Federal Police and those policing the ‘borderless crime’ of online child sexual exploitation.

Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 has shown that in Australia, only around half of all parents talk to their children about online safety. 50 per cent of parents don’t know what to do to keep their kids safe online. Just 3 per cent of parents are concerned about online grooming, and most believe online child sexual exploitation is too repulsive to even think about.  

‘Closing The Net’ is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to eradicate this issue is if we bring a ‘whole-of-community’ response.  

Learn more about the podcast at, and listen to Closing The Net on any popular podcast streaming platform.

Graduates rotate through the ACCCE

Graduates at ACCCE


It has been a wild ride for our AFP Graduates Juliana, Sarah and Jacob who have recently completed their graduate rotation through the ACCCE. 

Sarah Rapacciuolo has been working with the Online Child Safety Team, delivering training for the ThinkUKnow program across the country. Sarah has applied her university training to also develop content for the program to use in educational resources for parents and carers, publications and social media. 

“Travelling and presenting definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but it was the best experience. The Graduate program has allowed me to upskill and learn a range of different abilities and meet a network of great people,” Sarah said. 

Juliana Bardoel has worked in the Office of the Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation for most of her first rotation of the Graduate program. Juliana contributed to the Travelling Child Sex Offender Outcomes Report which was presented in Cambodia and assists with compiling several reports for the specialist command. Juliana was part of the team who developed the inaugural Northern Command Newsletter and is looking forward to her next rotation in Human Trafficking. 

Jacob Moore undertook rotations in Property & Exhibits, Policy & Strategy and Aviation Intelligence Brisbane during his Graduate year.

"Each rotation gave me a unique perspective into working for the AFP. I was fortunate enough to work in teams led by fantastic mentors that fostered the very best working environments. I was encouraged to build strong professional networks and bring a positive attitude to work. My Team Leaders were all so patient, supportive and brought the very best out of their teams. It was such a pleasure to contribute to all three of the business areas I was apart of during the program," Jacob said.

Jacob  has recently graduated from the program and will be staying on in the specialist command working in the Child Protection National Strategy Team.

Congratulations to all! 

My Pictures Matter

Can you help?


Your childhood photos could help investigators combat online child sexual exploitation. 

The Australian Federal Police and researchers from Monash University have worked together to create My Pictures Matter, a crowdsourcing campaign where people can contribute photographs of themselves as children. 

These pictures will be used to train artificial intelligence models to recognise the presence of children in safe situations, to help identify unsafe situations and potentially flag child exploitation material.

This initiative will support police officers and the children we are trying to protect.

In 2021, the ACCCE received more than 33,000 reports of online child exploitation and each report can contain many images of children being sexually assaulted or exploited. 

The My Pictures Matter campaign is calling for people aged 18 and over to submit photos. The images and related data will not include any identifying information, ensuring images cannot reveal any personal information about the people who are depicted. 

To learn more about the My Pictures Matter campaign and submit images, please visit:

ACCCE billboard is live

ACCCE Billboard


After much anticipation — and a small set back due to Brisbane’s wild weather — the ACCCE billboard is now up and running, ready to showcase the fantastic initiatives being undertaken to combat child exploitation. 

The billboard was a Proceeds of Crime-funded project designed to assist in promoting the work of the AFP, ACCCE, and our child protection partners. 

The ACCCE was proud to promote Act for Kids ‘Change for Kids Giving Day’ as one of our first stakeholder promotions, along with International Missing Children’s day and the Neighbourhood Watch Australasia Digital Mentor Program. Other initiatives on rotation include Stop the Stigma, Trace an Object and the Closing The Net podcast.

The billboard is on the city side of the ACCCE Fortitude Valley building (Barry Parade) so make sure you have a look next time you are in Brisbane. 

Doing IT podcast

Doing IT podcase series


How do you start tough conversations about topics like bodies, relationships, consent, online safety and grooming with your children?

The Doing IT podcast from Sexual Health Victoria discusses these topics and more with experts in their field, giving parents and carers the tools they need to empower the young people in their lives. 

In April, as part of a series about sexual content online, AFP Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling joined the Doing IT podcast to share information about online grooming, what parents and carers should be aware of and how they can have honest and regular conversations to prevent online child sexual exploitation. 

You can find Doing IT and listen to the conversation with Jayne on all major podcast platforms. And while you’re there, check out the ACCCE podcast Closing The Net. 

For more resources on preventing online child sexual exploitation, visit

Face of the ACCCE: Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling

Tell us about your role in the ACCCE

My role is the national lead for the crime types of child protection and human trafficking for the AFP. For Northern Command, I manage child exploitation investigations, human trafficking and cybercrime teams. And within the ACCCE, I manage the Online Child Safety Team, who look after the ThinkUKnow initiative, and the Prevention and Engagement Team, who manage all the relationships with stakeholders such as NGOs, government departments and academia.

What are some of the areas you have worked in the AFP?

I have spent years in various investigations areas in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and now Brisbane. I also spent time in Surveillance, Drug investigations, Fraud and Anti-corruption, Child Protection and Learning and Development. I was also a Deputy Commissioner’s staff officer for a few years.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

A few things, but two things in particular that I am proud of: one, I was responsible for the conceptualisation and ultimate construction and maintenance of the Investigator’s Toolkit on the internal AFP Hub, and another was that I was part of the original team responsible for the development of the ThinkUKnow program. I am still a volunteer for ThinkUKnow some 12 years later.

What skills are you eager to contribute to the ACCCE?

I have a slightly different way of looking at things, and I think that it leads to different approaches to innovating and problem solving.

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

In the next 12 months, I want to get to know my staff a little better, and understand where their strengths lie so that we can work more effectively to produce better outcomes for victims.

Who do you look up to?

I have looked up to a range of AFP bosses over the years, some who have unfortunately passed away, and I have learned so many different things from them, including how to be a better leader.

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

One person I would be keen to bring to ACCCE and work with would be Dylan Alcott. I find him so inspiring and energetic. I think he would be an amazing addition to the ACCCE, particular in relation to his ideas on how we can engage more with our key audiences.

What do you enjoy most about working in Child Protection?

Like most people who have worked in this crime type, despite all of the challenges that we face, I also get a sense of satisfaction that we can make a genuine impact on a young person’s life – either stopping the offending that is taking place or preventing it all together. This feels slightly more tangible and impactful than it does in some of the other crimes types I have worked in. 

Words of advice for people concerned about online child exploitation?

Educate yourself, understand what role you can play to help keep kids safe online - particularly if you are a parent or carer. Know what your young person is doing online, provide supervision to younger children, ensure privacy settings are in place, and know how to report if something goes wrong. Most importantly, ensure that lines of communication are open with your young person so that they know they can bring a problem to you, and that you will help take action.

Upcoming events

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