I would like to start by saying thank you to everyone for welcoming me into the ACCCE, from members within the ACCCE building to the stakeholders I have met at numerous events including the National Child Protection Forum, the Bright Futures launch, and our recent morning tea at the ACCCE.
I have had the privilege to meet several international counterparts at the Virtual Global Taskforce meeting in The Hague, along with meetings in France and the United Kingdom last month, where I had the opportunity to discuss a range of topics including child sexual exploitation trends, operations, challenges and lines of effort.
It’s amazing to think that this September the ACCCE will be acknowledging five years of operation and it provides a good opportunity to look at where the ACCCE started, where it is today, and where it is going. I can see that with our partners, there is so much opportunity in the awareness and education space, as well as operationally, to disrupt, prevent and respond to child sexual exploitation.
Going forward, I would like to introduce my leadership team, Detective Superintendent Frank Rayner, Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling and Manichan Puurand. I am looking forward to working together with these leaders to continue driving the ACCCE.
Detective Superintendent Frank Rayner
Superintendent ACCCE Operations: Detective Superintendent Frank Rayner will oversee triaging of reports and referrals into the ACCCE, operations development, technical capability, covert operations, and the Intelligence Fusion Cell.
Frank brings with him 25 years of experience within the AFP, largely spent conducting investigations across multiple crime types and has a particular interest in the work of the AFP internationally. One of Frank’s recent roles was leading the Queensland Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team. He has a great deal of respect for our state and territory colleagues.
Frank is looking forward to getting to know all the dedicated people across the teams he is responsible for and supporting the ACCCE leadership to contribute to delivering the ACCCE vision.
Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling
Superintendent ACCCE and Human Exploitation: Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling will be a familiar face to most as she has supported the ACCCE in its prevention and awareness efforts undertaking media interviews and presentations. Jayne has strategic oversight for AFP child protection and human trafficking investigations nationally, as well as the AFP’s victim identification capability.
Jayne will continue to enhance and promote the AFP’s ThinkUKnow program that she helped establish back in 2008. Jayne is looking forward to delivering on new capabilities under the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse.
Coordinator Human Exploitation Business Delivery: Manichan Puurand will oversee the cogs that help turn the wheels of the ACCCE which includes strategy and policy, strategic communication and prevention and engagement efforts along with the National Strategy and ACCCE Centre Coordination Team.
Manichan brings a wealth of corporate and enabling business acumen and recently worked alongside Deputy Commissioner Lesa Gale on the implementation project stemming from the AFP Regional Command Model Review recommendations. Manichan is looking forward to shaping the future direction for the Business Delivery teams to ensure the support structure continues to be agile and future oriented in our endeavour to build stronger partnerships with Industry, Non-government organisations, and partner agencies.
This edition of the newsletter highlights some important work when you look at where the ACCCE is heading. Our victim identification efforts are continuing to expand and be enhanced with our international collaboration. The recent Digital Industry Summit led by the Attorney-General's Department was a key milestone with industry and government looking forward together.
We continue to raise awareness of current trends and issues through a number of forums, including conferences and importantly, within the community with the recent airing of Parental Guidance and the Neighbourhood Watch Australasia community service campaign.
I am looking forward to seeing the ACCCE continue to work with stakeholders into the future to achieve results with the vision to free children from exploitation. My leadership team and I are committed in our efforts to drive the ACCCE into the future, leveraging the AFP’s international network to tackle this borderless crime with our global partners and coordinating the national response to combat child sexual exploitation, remove victims from harm and support survivors.
The ACCCE was fortunate to welcome the Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, with jurisdictional Police Commissioners, Police Ministers, and Senior Officials to the ACCCE recently as part of the Police Ministers Council Meeting.
The delegation was met by AFP Acting Commissioner Ian McCartney, Acting Chief of Staff Joanne Cameron and ACCCE and Human Exploitation Commander Helen Schneider. Commander Schneider and Detective Acting Superintendent ACCCE Operations Craig Mann gave a brief tour and overview of the ACCCE facility and the teams operating within the ACCCE.
“It is wonderful to share the important work taking place at the ACCCE from both our operational and professional areas. We have many challenges ahead of us and look forward to working with our partners to achieve our vision,” Commander Schneider said.
Guests were then invited to sign the ACCCE vision board, showing their support to free children from exploitation. The Queensland Police Minister hosted a lunchbox session with Queensland Police Service and the Beasley Foundation before the delegation departed.
Last year the ACCCE reported Australian children as young as eight were being coerced into performing live-streamed sexual acts by online child sex offenders. These offenders recorded and often shared the videos on the dark net and sexually extorted victims into producing more content.
The screen capture offending, which online offenders refer to as “capping’ (screen-capturing) is still one of the fastest growing trends of online child sexual exploitation and children are being targeted across social media and video streaming platforms.
Given the increase in this crime, the ACCCE Victim Identification Team worked closely with Queensland Police Service Taskforce Argos, who had identified a high volume of capping victims.
These efforts saw international counterparts come together under the ACCCE-hosted Victim Identification Taskforce Operation Blackheath. Representatives from INTERPOL, Europol, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and law enforcement partners in the United States, Canada and Norway joined the ACCCE and Taskforce Argos to focus on the most prolific high value targets for further investigation. With the collaborative review of intelligence within the taskforce, investigative targets grew from 30 to 47.
ACCCE Victim Identification Capability Developer Jonas Seider said the team had been tracking some of these offenders on different forums for more than 10 years.
Last year the ACCCE referred information to the AFP Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) in the Australian Capital Territory which led to an arrest and several items seized. Following the search warrant, devices were reviewed by officers and material related to children being sexually exploited was identified and referred to the AFP Victim Identification Team.
The AFP Victim Identification Team is made up of highly experienced investigators trained to look for the most minuscule clue to identify victims. The team uses a range of methodologies and technologies to identify victims and liaise with Australian and foreign law enforcement agencies, particularly in jurisdictions in which a child resides, with the objective of removing the child from harm.
In this case, the review of material resulted in the team identifying children located in the Philippines. As shown on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent featured in last quarter’s Newsletter, the AFP then worked closely with the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC) which saw a joint investigation commence resulting in four children being rescued and removed from harm last month.
The ACCCE continues to raise awareness of child exploitation trends to enhance our prevention and education efforts.
ACCCE Commander Helen Schneider spoke about the rising trend of financial sextortion and what the ACCCE, AUSTRAC and mental health partners are doing to minimise this growing risk to young people, at the National Child Protection Forum and the Youth, Technologies, and Virtual Communities conference.
“At both events the focus has been on partnerships and collaboration; working together is key to combatting online child exploitation,” Commander Helen Schneider said.
“It is clear that stakeholders across the child protection community are focussed on disrupting offenders and looking at ways to prevent and disrupt the exploitation from occurring in the first place.”
The ACCCE has also worked collaboratively with Neighbourhood Watch Australasia on three key community service announcements, and with Channel 9’s Parental Guidance program to broaden community awareness.
The Attorney-General's Department coordinated a day with Google, Meta, Snapchat, TikTok, Microsoft and Discord at the ACCCE to discuss how industry and law enforcement can work together to tackle the rising prevalence of sextortion in Australia.
The 2023 Digital Industry Event – Sextortion Dialogue focused on the rising issue of sextortion. That is, where young people are being targeted by offshore syndicates who blackmail victims after tricking or coercing them into sending nude images of themselves, either for financial gain or to gain additional child abuse material from the victim.
The forum was hosted at the ACCCE in Brisbane on Wednesday, 10 May.
University of New South Wales Associate Professor Dr Michael Salter presented research analysis into financial sextortion victim posts.
Queensland Police Service Acting Manager of Victim Identification Scott Anderson spoke of operational perspectives related to capping (the covert recording of others), while University of Tasmania Senior Lecturer Dr Joel Scanlan presented research on how to implement warnings to prevent the use of child sexual abuse material before offending occurs.
Further operational insights were presented by the AFP led ACCCE Intelligence Fusion Cell Team Leader Scott Ralph and AFP Child Protection Triage Unit investigator Leanne Cooper.
Child sexual exploitation and abuse subject matter expert Jon Rouse, from Onemi Global, facilitated workshops on the prevention, disruption, and detection of sextortion, reporting practices and how information gathered in reports are used by law enforcement for investigations.
An AFP covert online operative and senior child protection specialist Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling from the AFP-led ACCCE, participated in Channel 9’s Parental Guidance television show (5 June 2023).
Parental Guidance is a reality television series in search for Australia’s best parenting style. The series includes 12 sets of parents who undergo challenges that put their parenting styles to the test. AFP experts worked closely with the show's producers for months to develop an online gaming scenario based off real reports made to the ACCCE. This included advice on grooming strategies and techniques commonly used by online child sex offenders.
The scenarios were limited to include only the initial stages of the grooming process and were carefully designed to highlight how quickly an online child sex offender can extract personal information from a child. The show provided a confronting, real-life example of how skilled online child sex offenders are when communicating with children, including instances where children have avoided further harm.
Detective Superintendent Crossling appeared as the show’s first ever in-studio guest, joining hosts Ally Langdon and Dr Justin Coulson to provide advice and educative support to parents. Detective Superintendent Crossling said the key message the AFP wanted parents and carers to take from the show was the importance of having regular conversations with your children about their online activities.
Neighbourhood Watch Australasia (NHWA) is midway through a powerful campaign to protect children from online sexual exploitation. The increase in young people (including children and infants) accessing the internet has seen a corresponding upward trend in cases of online child sexual exploitation.
In collaboration with the ACCCE, ‘Keeping Kids Safe Online’ is a series of televised Community Service Announcements (CSAs) with a strong message; having open and honest conversations about online safety to protect young people from potential online sexual exploitation.
NHWA Chief Executive Officer Maria Bennett said, “Our goal is to encourage parents, carers and children to navigate an increasingly online life together by being informed and reporting suspected incidences of online child sexual exploitation.”
The campaign focuses on three key areas: awareness of the extent of the problem, red flags to watch out for, and supporting children to speak up and report.
“If parents/carers can stay informed of online dangers, build trust and keep an open dialogue with young people in their care, they have the power to protect them from experiencing online harm,” Ms Bennett said.
The campaign is being rolled out nationally through TV commercials, directing viewers to helpful resources on the ACCCE website that offer further advice and support. The CSA commercials can also be viewed on the NHWA website.
Commander Helen Schneider and Detective Inspector Kurt Wesche attended the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Board of Management meeting at Europol headquarters in The Hague in May.
Attendees discussed operational best practice and information sharing in response to sextortion, measuring the scale of child sexual abuse (including darknet operations and offender methodologies), prevention and education initiatives, capacity building, technological advancements, working with regulators and the key importance of the health and wellbeing of investigators.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation discussed case studies regarding darknet operations and highlighted lessons learned. The University of Southampton presented on coping styles and mental health strategies and supports for staff investigating online child sexual abuse material.
The forum canvassed wellbeing requirements as part of the VGT wellbeing review and initiatives to be launched over the coming months.
The final draft of the international model response to transnational child sex offenders was discussed, including a proposed standard for improved multilateral coordination.
Advances in technology were highlighted as part of the child sexual abuse regulation and reporting panel, including artificial intelligence, hash sharing techniques as well as legislative challenges.
The Child Rescue Coalition discussed the challenges of end-to-end encryption in child sexual abuse investigations, including tools to better support covert operatives working in this crime type.
The forum also heard from researchers and academia regarding case studies, including networks on the dark web, and protecting children by using holistic methods to prevent all forms of sexual violence against children.
The International Justice Mission (IJM) hosted their annual benefit black tie dinner in May with the theme “Justice Illuminated” highlighting the IJM’s collaborative engagement and achievements in the Philippines.
The event raised an impressive $400,000 on the night.
The IJM is the largest anti-slavery organisation in the world working to free vulnerable people from slavery, sex trafficking, online child sexual exploitation, sexual violence against children, violence against women and children, and police brutality. The IJM works across 33 communities in 23 countries worldwide.
The AFP and ACCCE work in partnership with IJM to respond to child protection and human trafficking crimes, working collaboratively with the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Centre and Philippine National Police.
Up to 250 invited guests attended the dinner, including AFP’s Human Trafficking Team Eastern Command investigator Christina Hellawell, and representatives from the Australian Crime Commission and the New South Wales Modern Slavery Commissioner.
Attendees heard from several guest speakers from the Philippines providing insights into the work of the IJM in the Philippines. Speakers included a survivor “Ruby” who told her story of being rescued from online child sexual exploitation through the assistance of the IJM, also acknowledging the efforts of the AFP.
Over the coming months, the IJM will participate in three ACCCE virtual roundtable discussion groups including media and engagement, legislative reform and industry engagement.
The IJM and ACCCE will continue to work together to rescue victims and work to bring criminals to justice.
The Australian Institute of Criminology released a study ‘Preventing child sexual abuse material offending: An international review of initiatives’ last week which reviewed initiatives that aim to prevent child sexual abuse material (CSAM) offending, including evidence of effectiveness.
Information was sourced via a literature search and input from an international expert advisory group. This review identified 74 initiatives in 16 countries, aimed at preventing CSAM offending, either as a primary or secondary goal.
Most of these initiatives are aimed at adults and fewer at young people. A small number of initiatives cater to the needs of Indigenous people and those with cognitive disability. Available programs focusing on these populations are mostly aimed at individuals already engaging in CSAM/CSA offending.
While there is a general need in most countries for more initiatives that target undetected CSAM and CSA offenders and those at risk of offending, at the time of writing, Canada and Australia are particularly lacking in this area.
AIC Research Manager, Dr Sarah Napier, said that the “Findings indicate education and awareness campaigns are reaching large numbers of undetected offenders in the community.”
“Initiatives designed specifically for CSAM offending show more promising outcomes for this offence type than those that broadly target contact sexual offending against children,” she said.
The study identified and examined 34 eligible studies measuring implementation and effectiveness. The available evidence indicates some positive outcomes from initiatives and successful targeting of hard-to-reach CSA and CSAM offending populations.
Specifically, education and awareness campaigns have been effective in attracting large numbers of individuals to online resources and helplines. These findings demonstrate the high demand for such programs and the ability of awareness campaigns to reach specific segments of the population.
Findings relating to effectiveness of individual initiatives are detailed in the report. While outcomes of programs are mixed, findings indicate that prevention initiatives can encourage help-seeking, reduce risk factors for offending, enhance protective factors, and reduce contact sexual offending against children.
While evaluations of initiatives aimed specifically at CSAM offending show promise, many are limited methodologically. Further and more robust evaluations are required to determine the impact of many current initiatives on use of CSAM.
The INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock recently visited the ACCCE while in Australia to brief attendees at the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group (FELEG) Annual Principals Meeting.
Secretary General Stock discussed the importance of international law enforcement partnerships as the safety net of global communities and sought to actively develop and coordinate common strategies for engagement and representation at INTERPOL and international bodies of strategic significance.
The visit to the ACCCE, hosted by AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough, provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the great work undertaken across the ACCCE while also highlighting ongoing collaboration with INTERPOL.
A tour of the ACCCE facility was led by Acting ACCCE Operations Superintendent Craig Mann. The key role of the International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database in online child sexual exploitation investigations was discussed.
Managed by INTERPOL, the ICSE database is a critical global tool supporting Australian law enforcement with a specialist and enhanced dataset identifying victims of online child sexual abuse. The ICSE database supports enhanced international exchange of data and information sharing in response to child sexual exploitation investigations across the world.
Secretary General Stock was most appreciative of the visit to ACCCE and highlighted the excellent work and global successes achieved through cooperation using ICSE, as well as the voluntary financial contribution by Australia towards the ICSE update.
ACCCE and Human Exploitation members recently attended the annual Bravehearts Ball to support this important ACCCE partnership.
The Bravehearts Ball has been held for 26 years to celebrate the important work of Bravehearts in the child protection space, and to raise funds to further their work in the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse.
Bravehearts provides child protection training and education programs, specialist child sexual abuse and exploitation counselling and support services to victims and their families and engages in research.
Bravehearts has been a key supporter of the ACCCE since its inception and continues to provide significant support to ACCCE initiatives. Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough and ACCCE Commander Helen Schneider were honoured to attend the Ball and show our support for all the amazing work that Bravehearts does.
ACCCE members networked with a range of Queensland-based child protection stakeholder agencies in support of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation’s (DMF) Bright Futures Queensland launch and Forum on 13 June.
The Bright Futures program is a continuation of DMF’s previous “Changing Futures” program, which aims to increase the confidence and competence of professionals who work with children to prevent, identify and respond to harmful sexual behaviours.
The event outlined how the program will be delivered through the provision of training and education, the creation of professional resources and facilitating state and territory specific forums. The program will also deliver a national symposium to bring together strategic leaders and high-level stakeholders to engage in best practice conversations around child abuse prevention.
ACCCE Commander Helen Schneider presented on the journey of the ACCCE and how, in collaboration with its partners, ACCCE works to disrupt the environment of online child sexual exploitation. Commander Schneider was joined by other guest speakers who presented on various aspects of technology-assisted harmful sexual behaviours.
While at the event, Commander Schneider also recorded an interview for DMF’s Bright Futures podcast.
The AFP’s Online Child Safety Team will contribute to a webinar later this year as part of the Bright Futures program.
ACCCE analysts are seeing more children being sexually exploited online through secretive screen recording tactics and are urging communities to work together to address the problem.
Capping is when the offender takes a screen recording without the knowledge of the victim. The offender may then use the images or videos to blackmail the victim to comply with their demands. These demands may be for money or more images.
ACCCE analysts are seeing more children being sexually exploited online through secretive screen recording tactics and are urging communities to work together to address the problem.
Argos Victim Identification Analyst Scott Anderson said if children are using messaging or social media platforms, there is a chance they will be exposed to communication from online child sex offenders.
“This type of offending is more prevalent than people want to admit. The exploitation of children online is getting worse” he said. Mr Anderson works within the ACCCE as a representative of Queensland Police.
“Offenders are taking advantage of the fact children are online and safeguards are not in place to protect them on platforms they are accessing,” he said.
“Online child sex offenders find it easy to target children, exploit them and screen capture the exploitation, which can sometimes lead to more severe types of exploitation, including sextortion or blackmail for more images or financial gain.”
“We would encourage more conversations about this crime type either on the platforms that the children are using or within communities.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Kirsty Schofield and ACCCE and Human Exploitation Commander Helen Schneider hosted a morning tea for partners and stakeholders of the ACCCE & Human Exploitation portfolio on Wednesday 14 June 2023.
The morning provided an opportunity for stakeholders to meet our newer members of the Executive leadership team including Detective Superintendent ACCCE Operations Frank Rayner and Coordinator Business Delivery Manichan Puurand. They were of course familiar with ACCCE and Human Exploitation Detective Superintendent Jayne Crossling.
The leadership team gave an update on some recent organisational changes for the AFP, and within the ACCCE that will allow us to better serve our partners and stakeholders moving forward.
Tell us about your role in the ACCCE?
As the Commander of the AFP-led ACCCE my role is to lead the national coordinated response to Child Sexual Exploitation. A key responsibility for me is sustaining and driving those partnerships that are required to combat and prevent this crime, remove victims from harm and give them on-going support.
This is a borderless crime and I intend to harness the AFP’s International Network to help the ACCCE deliver its strategic objectives here in Australia.
What are some of the areas you have worked in the AFP?
I have worked in several areas within the AFP including the Joint Counter Terrorism Taskforce, QLD Joint Organised Taskforce, Taskforce Integrity (fraud), Investigations Standards and Practices, Crime, and the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation.
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I am proud of my contributions to joint law enforcement agency environments (regardless of crime type) because this is where we have the greatest impact for the community – force multiplying capacity, capability, and diversity of thought. I am also personally very proud of my contribution to the investigation into the downing of MH17. I also reflect on several significant victim-based crime matters I was responsible for during my time in the Queensland Police Service and I wonder how those individuals are going now in their life journey.
What skills are you eager to contribute to the ACCCE?
I think my breadth of law enforcement agency experience, locally, nationally, and internationally has taught me a lot about leadership, partnerships, operations, and prevention. I am keen to invest all this knowledge into my role at the ACCCE, and I hope I bring a new and useful perspective to the team here.
What would you like to achieve in the next 12 months within ACCCE?
I have a number of goals over the next 12 months, and these include:
- Continuing to drive the AFP-led initiatives under the National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse – particularly progressing recruitment to capability roles so we continue to tackle the various methodologies of child sexual exploitation with increased capacity, a proactive mindset and in new and innovative ways. I
- Increase and coordinate our intelligence picture with existing and new partners to better inform our efforts, locally, nationally, and internationally.
- Continue our trusted and innovative prevention and education efforts in the ACCCE and consider how we can reach further into Australian communities to better protect our children – in particular, exploring how we can grow the impact of our children’s book Jack Changes the Game.
- Enhance the connection and support between the ACCCE and our JACETs and State and Territory partners across the country in relation to operational activity, capability uplift and coordination of international referrals.
In fact, there are lots of things I want to achieve in the next 12 months – but I will stick with these four points.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to all the parents, carers, teachers, and trusted adults out there who are navigating the challenges of the online environment with the children in our community. It is tricky for older generations who did not grow up with this technology to have conversations with children about online safety. I am proud of everyone who tries to counter the online exploitation risk to children across the globe.
If you could invite one person to work at the ACCCE who would it be?
I see the ACCCE as a team sport, where the diversity and inclusion of many is needed to deliver a nationally coordinated and collaborative impact to counter child sexual exploitation.
If I could invite a group of people, I would like to invite children from time to time to talk with me and our staff about what matters to them, what they are wanting to do with their lives, their likes, and dislikes and what makes them feel safe online. I think it would be insightful to know our VIP customers more and I think this would be impactful, motivating, and inspiring for my workforce.
What do you enjoy most about working in Child Protection?
The fact that there is a tangible result in helping disrupt those involved in victim-based crime. The work we do, both operationally and from an education perspective, in collaboration with all our partners, directly removes risk from our communities and protects our children.
Words of advice for people concerned about online child exploitation?
Be proactive in addressing the risk. Educate yourself and talk to your children often about their online world. Reach out and get help. ACCCE and the AFP ThinkUKnow websites host a raft of tools and advice for our community about how to prevent and respond to online child sexual exploitation.
For all upcoming events, head to accce.gov.au/events