Welcome back to the first edition of the ACCCE Quarterly Newsletter for 2022!
When we said farewell to 2021, we hoped for greener pastures and that two years of challenges were behind us. Despite our workforce returning with energy and optimism, 2022 has continued to test us. From Omicron outbreaks to national disaster flooding, the ACCCE and our members continue to show resilience, and never stop in our vision of children free from exploitation.
The theme for this edition is international partnerships. This reflects the importance of collaboration and the work our global stakeholders do to protect children. As we say at the ACCCE, it takes a network to break a network.
In February we were pleased to welcome members of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Children’s Rights to the ACCCE. The visit was a two-day information exchange following the group’s strong interest in Australia’s online safety and countering child exploitation initiatives.
The ACCCE-led Operation Molto has now concluded with impressive results thanks to the work of police across every state and territory. Molto was part of an international operation which removed 153 children from harm, including 51 Australians. This is another landmark operation in global child protection, and would not have been possible without the valuable work and intelligence provided by New Zealand Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in 2019.
The ACCCE was proudly represented at the 38th Operational Meeting of the INTERPOL Specialist Group on Crimes Against Children, held in Lyon, France earlier in March. In attendance were 98 participants from 54 countries, from regional and international organisations, the private sector, NGOs and academia. I thank those who represented the ACCCE at the Group’s first gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic, to share best practices across countries and sectors.
Congratulations to Detective Senior Constable Natalie Roesler for being named AFP Detective of the Year for her work in combatting child exploitation, while part of the South Australian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team. Natalie continues her work in child protection as an advisor to our law enforcement partners in the Philippines.
Two new students from the University of Queensland have joined us to study as part of the ACCCE’s ongoing commitment to preparing future capabilities and technologies to counter child exploitation. We also entered a new partnership with the University of Melbourne for a research project focusing on preventing child sexual abuse in out-of-home care.
The recent increases in cases of ‘capping’ were a key theme at the March Stakeholder Workshop, a pivotal event in the ACCCE calendar that allows us to collaborate with our partners, scan and identify gaps in the child protection environment.
It was my pleasure to take part in several events recently including the Dance for Daniel, Queensland Police’s International Women’s Day, and the Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety.
Our awareness campaigns continue to have fantastic reach, with our Trace an Object initiative surpassing more than 100,000 hits. Stop the Stigma has been viewed more than 700,000 times thanks to new partnerships with outdoor billboard media companies, and our Back-to-School campaign amassed a potential audience of 19 million.
I would like to formally welcome Detective Superintendent Operations Glyn Lewis who joined the ACCCE in January this year. Glyn brings with him a wealth of experience in cyber crime and international relations. You can learn more about Glyn as our first Face of the ACCCE for the year.
Like many Australians on the east coast, the ACCCE and our members were impacted by the recent flooding event. Some of our members bravely volunteered with the State Emergency Service and the Mud Army here in Brisbane, helping people desperately in need and I thank them for their work.
Lastly, please take the time to watch my book reading. This month we chose famed children’s author, Tess Rowley and her book, Everyone’s got a bottom.
Members of the European Parliament’s (EP) Intergroup on Children’s Rights visited the ACCCE in February as a two-day information exchange following the group’s strong interest in Australia’s online safety and countering child exploitation initiatives.
Hosted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the eSafety Commissioner, the study visit was an opportunity to highlight how the AFP, ACCCE and our partners are leading the way in the fight to protect children online, no matter where they are in the world.
The group included the Hon Caterina Chinnici and the Hon David Lega who are Co-Chairs of the Intergroup as well as Mr Emilio Puccio, Secretary-General of the Intergroup.
A tour of the ACCCE was led by Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec, showcasing the purpose-built facility and inviting the group to ask questions of our subject matter experts from Covert Online, Victim Identification, Child Protection Triage Unit and Prevention and Engagement teams.
During their visit, the group were invited to view the Digital Industry Engagement – Industry as Partners event, which focused on tackling the livestreaming of child sexual abuse. AFP Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale and eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant participated as panellists during the event.
More than 100 Australians were charged with over 1000 child abuse-related offences under an international operation, which has now concluded.
Operation Molto, coordinated by the AFP-led ACCCE, working together with police from every state and territory in Australia, removed 51 children from harm after identifying alleged offenders across the country.
The operation started in 2019, when the ACCCE received intelligence from New Zealand Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) showing thousands of offenders were using a cloud storage platform to share abhorrent child abuse material online.
Known globally as Operation H, the multinational law enforcement effort resulted in 153 children being removed from harm, including 79 in the United Kingdom, 51 children in Australia, 12 in Canada, six in New Zealand, four in the United States and one child in Europe.
In Australia, some of the alleged offenders, who are also accused of producing their own child abuse material online, were in possession of material that was produced by a man arrested by the AFP in 2015 under Operation Niro, which resulted in the dismantling of an international organised paedophile syndicate. The material was classified as the most abhorrent produced.
Police from every state and territory in Australia executed 158 search warrants in Australia, charging 121 men with 1248 charges. The alleged offenders were employed in range of occupations, including construction, transport, law enforcement and hospitality.
A great result!
International Women’s Day
Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec joined the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to celebrate International Women’s Day on 10 March.
The theme of the event coincided with the theme for Queensland Women’s Week: ‘Keep Making Noise’, celebrating the achievements and contributions of women and girls while recognising there is still more to be done to achieve gender equality.
Keynote speaker for the event was the Honourable Pru Goward, who spoke about challenges and achievements of her own career; examples of Australian women who successfully challenged discriminatory practices in the workplace; and advice on how we can achieve gender equality.
Commander Sirec joined a panel of trailblazers from the QPS and Qld Fire and Emergency Services, who shared their own journeys, how they advocate for other women and advice for delegates about how they can ‘keep making noise’.
ACCCE representatives recently met with some of the world’s best international law enforcement agencies in France at the INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children.
In attendance was Detective Superintendent Glyn Lewis (ACCCE spokesperson), Detective Inspector Jon Rouse (Chair, Undercover and Covert Internet Investigations subgroup), Paul Griffiths (Chair, Technology Facilitated Crimes against Children subgroup), Russell McCall and Marissa Ward.
They were among 98 participants from 54 countries who discussed technical solutions to combat online child sexual abuse, identify victims and their attackers, and disrupt criminal networks that produce and circulate abusive content.
These information-sharing conferences are essential to keeping up with the trends of offenders, who continually seek to exploit children while benefitting from the anonymity of the online environment and from new applications and platforms.
ACCCE Detective Superintendent Operations Glyn Lewis reflected on the importance of international collaboration.
“This was a much needed opportunity for experts across the world to reconvene to discuss some of the critical issues law enforcement are dealing with when it comes to crimes against children.”
INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database identifies 27,000 victims and more than 12,000 offenders worldwide.
Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety
Assistant Commissioner Northern Command Lesa Gale and Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec appeared at the Select Committee on Social Media and Online Safety on Tuesday 8 March.
The ACCCE were asked to give evidence to the committee in relation to online harms that may be faced by Australians on social media and other online platforms, including harmful content and conduct.
Assistant Commissioner Gale and Commander Sirec gave an overview of the work of the ACCCE and our partners in combatting online child sexual exploitation and their experience working with industry to tackle the issue.
A full transcript of the hearing can be viewed at parlinfo.aph.gov.au
Torrential rain hits the ACCCE
Like many Australians on the east coast, the ACCCE and our members were hit with dangerous flooding in February and March.
The ACCCE building sustained minor flooding, and thanks to the quick work of our Centre Coordination Unit who worked into the night, were able to avoid long term damage, particularly to a fire door where water was gushing through.
Many members had power cut to their homes for days and were locked down to their houses due to infrastructure damage and flooded roads.
Some of our members bravely volunteered with the State Emergency Service and the Mud Army in Brisbane, helping people desperately in need.
Detective of the Year Award
Congratulations to Detective Senior Constable Natalie Roesler for being named Detective of the Year (2020 period) for her work in combatting child exploitation while part of the South Australian Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team.
The Detective of the Year Award recognises AFP investigators who demonstrate excellence in their roles. The award is an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and celebrate the role of our dedicated and committed Detectives, who demonstrate outstanding perseverance, innovation, and leadership.
Detective Senior Constable Roesler is currently posted in Manila, Philippines and is a Child Protection Advisor, working closely with the Philippines Internet Crimes Against Children Centre (PICACC) in combatting the online sexual abuse of children in the Philippines.
Please join us in congratulating Detective Senior Constable Roesler. We are proud of her achievements and tireless dedication to AFP investigations.
The ACCCE hosted the 2022 Stakeholder Workshop in Brisbane on Friday 18 March 2022, bringing together key stakeholders in the child protection space to discuss opportunities for education, awareness, and prevention campaigns.
Representatives from several ACCCE stakeholders were in attendance including The Carly Ryan Foundation, Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Bravehearts, Act for Kids, ThinkUKnow, PartnerSPEAK, eSafety, National Centre for Action on Child Sexual Abuse, and the National Office for Child Safety.
ACCCE stakeholders were extremely positive about the success of the day, with many commenting on the fantastic opportunity to network and collaborate in person following the breaks due to COVID-19.
The workshop delved into some of the trending issues that operational teams at the ACCCE are seeing regularly, namely ‘capping’, grooming, and sextortion. Following on from these education sessions, participants discussed potential future prevention strategies.
The ACCCE continues to work with partner agencies and organisations as part of a collaborative national approach to preventing child exploitation.
New ACCCE partnership with University of Melbourne
The ACCCE has partnered with the University of Melbourne for a research project focusing on preventing child sexual abuse in out-of-home care.
This three-year project, called Disrupting Child Sexual Exploitation (DICE), aims at implementing a trauma-informed disruptive policing approach to respond to children living in residential care who are experiencing sexual exploitation, on and offline.
The ACCCE will be supporting the DICE project by participating in the DICE Steering Committee and aiding with key stakeholder engagement as the project progresses and efforts to upscale begin.
The DICE Project will assist in addressing the nation-wide problem of child sexual exploitation for children and young people living in residential care.
ACCCE welcomes new University of Queensland students for 2022
The ACCCE is excited to welcome two new University of Queensland (UQ) students to study with us in 2022.
Part of the ACCCE’s ongoing commitment to preparing future capabilities and technologies to counter child exploitation involves an ongoing partnership with UQ whereby two students each year from the Bachelor of Criminology Honours program are invited to complete their theses within the ACCCE.
Topics are selected in consultation with the ACCCE, and students then have access to ACCCE resources to help them complete their theses, as well as working from the ACCCE one day a week.
We are thrilled to continue this partnership in 2022 and welcome Caitlin Zillmann and Darcy Binger to the ACCCE. Caitlin and Darcy will be completing their theses on the topic of “Education duplication and consistency in messages within the Australian curriculum and NGO programs”.
We anticipate all our stakeholders will be as keen as we are to provide input into this valuable research and will be reaching out to you all later in the year. In the meantime, please join us in welcoming Caitlin and Darcy to the ACCCE.
ThinkUKnow launch social media starter kit
With teens eligible to independently set up their own social media accounts once they turn 13 years-old, the AFP’s ThinkUKnow program launched a new parent and carer social media starter kit.
The kit provides tips and advice on how to implement safety measures to help prevent instances of online child sexual exploitation on social media.
While some children may have had their own tablets, gaming consoles and other devices for years, turning 13 years-old is an important milestone for parents and carers to initiate age-appropriate conversations about their personal safety online.
Websites, apps, games or sites have the potential to be positive, and foster creativity, teach problem-solving skills, and provide much-needed connectivity to friends, however, there is also the potential for them to be misused or cause harm.
Many reports made to the ACCCE involve instances of self-generated child sexual abuse material, online grooming and inappropriate contact – many of which begin through interactions on social media.
Although at age 13, a young person is legally allowed to create an account in their own name, it does not necessarily mean that the content and images they will be exposed to is appropriate for that age group.
Parents and carers are being urged to implement safe online habits and preventative measures at home to reduce the risk and incidence of online child sexual exploitation.
The resource is available at thinkUKnow.org.au/resources
Safer Internet Day
The ACCCE was proud to support Safer Internet Day on 8 February, where we joined eSafety and called on everyone to play it safe and fair online
With so much of our time spent online, it has never been more important to promote the safe use of technology, build digital skills and help all Australians have safer, more positive experiences online.
To us here at the ACCCE, that means being honest about your online experiences, for young people to tell a trusted adult about a negative experience you might have had online, and for parents and carers to regularly have conversations with their children about online safety.
Parents, carers, and all influencers of children were encouraged to take part in eSafety’s useful webinars. A schedule of future webinars can be found at https://www.esafety.gov.au/parents/webinars
The Safer Internet Day campaign raises awareness about online safety for people of all ages and is celebrated in 170 countries.
Through simple actions like being safe, respectful and kind, we can all #PlayitFairOnline.
Register Now for Bravehearts 777 Marathon
Bravehearts 777 Marathon is Australia’s mightiest ultra-marathon that sees participants running 7 marathons in 7 states in 7 days. Register now to take part from Monday 27 June - Sunday 3 July 2022.
The Bravehearts 777 Marathon is unique in that it attracts not only marathon enthusiasts, but also those who are looking for an endurance challenge that supports a worthy cause. People of all abilities are welcome to participate.
Learn more at Bravehearts.com/
Representatives from the AFP and the ACCCE including Commissioner Reece Kershaw, Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale and Commander Hilda Sirec attended the annual Dance for Daniel in Brisbane on Saturday 19 March.
It was an eventful night with the Minister for Home Affairs announcing a Proceeds of Crime Grant of $3.4million to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation (DMF) for their Brighter Futures Program. Brighter Futures focuses on the prevention of harmful sexual behaviour in young people.
A highlight of the evening was the speech by DMF Founders Bruce and Denise Morcombe who used the opportunity to applaud the collaborative efforts of the ACCCE, and recognised the work of the Stop the Stigma campaign, by playing the video for attendees.
The AFP has been a long-term supporter of DMF and its child safety pillars of Recognise, React and Report.
Back to school campaign
Starting or returning to school is an exciting time for parents and pupils, and for many students it is the first time they will receive their own tablets or mobile phones. It is also a time where photos are taken and shared of special family milestones.
In January 2022, the ACCCE and AFP produced a joint campaign focussed on media and social media to remind parents and carers about online safety.
Technology and devices are an important part of children's learning and engagement, so the AFP, ACCCE and ThinkUKnow program outlined how to stay safe online particularly at this time of year, how to recognise predatory sexual and grooming behaviour, and how to report suspicious behaviour and abuse.
The resources in the campaign provided advice for families to deal with the ‘digital coming of age’ of young people, and advice on how to share photos of children safely on social media.
The media releases achieved a 19 million potential audience being heavily featured across news sources, and the social media content amassed a reach of more than 400,000.
Language matters. That is why the ACCCE Facebook and Instagram pages dedicated a whole month to help people better understand online child sexual exploitation.
There are still words relating to online child sexual exploitation used across industries that are not common knowledge to the public. This series aimed to help the community better understand the language the ACCCE and other agencies use regularly and highlight the fact that there is still a large knowledge gap in this crime type.
If we are to protect our children and deter offenders, we all need to get up to speed. There are more than 20 definitions that now reside on the ACCCE Instagram page highlights. How many of them do you know already? Are there more words we can add to the list for the future? Let us know!
Stop the Stigma
With the generous support of multiple billboard companies, the Stop the Stigma campaign has been promoted on billboards across Queensland and Victoria since December 2021. The campaign’s graphic has been promoted for free by the billboard companies Gawk Outdoor, Billboards Australia and BIG Outdoor.
The ACCCE is incredibly grateful for the support of these companies in promoting the campaign and helping to break down the stigma of talking about child exploitation. Of note, BIG Outdoor, a Queensland digital out of home media company specialising in digital billboards, has displayed the campaign image across Queensland more than 700,000 times since 20 December 2021.
Everyone’s got a bottom
Join Commander ACCCE and Human Exploitation Hilda Sirec for a special book reading of 'Everyone’s got a bottom' authored by Tess Rowley and illustrated by Jodi Edwards.
'Everyone’s got a bottom' is a great resource for parents and carers to start the conversation with their children about body safety, in a way that is fun, positive, and protective.
You can see previous ACCCE book readings on the ACCCE Youtube channel.
Trace an object reaches 100,000
An incredible milestone that demonstrates how many people are committed to helping us remove children from harm and stop child abuse. We have received over 750 reports to our Victim Identification Unit who work tirelessly to turn them into investigative leads.
If you haven't reviewed the objects yet, find them at accce.gov.au/trace and make a report if you know the location of an item.
ACCCE Yoga is back!
ACCCE rooftop yoga started back in March and enjoyed a re-set post COVID-19 and Brisbane flooding. The mental health of our members is always a focus in our child protection space.
The ACCCE recently released its ‘Victim Identification Awareness’ online learning course through the AFP’s Learning and Development Command ‘Moodle’ platform.
The online awareness course was developed by the ACCCE Victim Identification Unit (ACCCE VIU) and coordinated by AFP member Mr Jonas Seider, an international victim identification specialist who joined the ACCCE VIU in February 2020.
The online course was designed to be a brief yet visually engaging way for law enforcement participants to develop an understanding of the victim-centric approach to online child sexual abuse investigations, and to improve collaborative victim identification efforts nationally.
Mr Seider combined his knowledge working in the victim identification field with his experience working at INTERPOL, and leveraged existing training modules delivered by EUROPOL, INTERPOL and national State & Territory Victim Identification specialists.
Mr Seider said he was happy to have the course published and he looked forward to receiving any feedback to continually improve and update the course content.
“I am thankful for the significant contributions and the joint effort between Australian Victim Identification Teams and the ACCCE VIU. Their contributions have assisted and will continue to assist the ongoing development of this world class awareness course that continues to generate interest from our international partners.”
The Victim Identification Awareness training currently has more than 150 participants enrolled, including members from all Australian States and Territories, Australian Border Force, Home Affairs, INTERPOL, EUROPOL, Dutch National Police, Denmark Police, United Kingdom Home Office and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The training will be administered by AFP Learning Command members attached to the ACCCE.
Tell us about your role in the ACCCE
I commenced as Superintendent Operations at the ACCCE on 1 January 2022. I lead the operational and support elements of the ACCCE including triage, victim identification, covert online, operations coordination, learning & development and building management. I am blessed in my role to have very professional and experienced leaders that are strongly committed to our vision – children are free from exploitation.
What are some of the areas you have worked in the AFP?
I have worked primarily in operational roles both domestically and internationally. My most recent and or notable roles include:
Placement as the Assistant Auditor General Forensic at the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) for Western Australia where I led the establishment of a high performing forensic audit and data analytic capability.
AFP’s National Coordinator Cybercrime and Coordinator at the Australian Cyber Security Centre and Deputy Chair of the Cybercrime Five Eyes Working Group.
INTERPOL where I was the Director of Specialized Crime & Analysis, consisting of 7 sub-directorates, including Crimes against Children.
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
I am proud of some of the work I led while at INTERPOL, including
Being Gold Leader for the INTERPOL Operation Lionfish 2 – a successful international operation involving 35 participating countries from Central and South America, the Caribbean and Europe that resulted in 30-plus tonnes of cocaine being seized, hundreds of laboratories being shut down, hundreds of arrests and the seizure of submarines and millions of dollars.
I am also proud of the work we did when I was the National Coordinator Cybercrime and working with US and Vietnamese authorities to arrest a Vietnamese national for hacking the Perth airport and stealing sensitive information concerning its security stack.
What skills are you eager to contribute to the ACCCE?
Experience in working with our international partners such as INTERPOL and EUROPOL.
What would you like to achieve in the next 12 months within ACCCE?
I am very keen to deliver initiatives funded under the Child Protection National Strategy and ensure that the ACCCE continues to be a vibrant and supportive place of work.
Who do you look up to?
I look up to our leadership group and our teams at the ACCCE – given their extensive knowledge and experience.
If you could invite one person to work at the ACCCE, who would it be?
Detective Sergeant Scott Mellis – his broad cybercrime experience with our expertise at the ACCCE would be another force multiplier.
What do you enjoy most about working in Child Protection?
The highly motivated and technology savvy people at the ACCCE and more generally in this crime space in the AFP and JACETs.
Words of advice for people concerned about online child exploitation?
Engage with your children and discuss the risks. Have a relationship of trust with your children so they feel safe to discuss anything and everything.
For all upcoming events, head to accce.gov.au/events
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