Menu

Newsletter - August 2020

ACCCE quarterly


Working together to counter online child exploitation


A profile image of Commander Jamie Strauss wearing the AFP uniform

Commander Jamie Strauss

Foreword from Commander Jamie Strauss

Welcome to the August edition of the ACCCE Newsletter. This edition’s theme is ‘technology’, which is rather fitting considering during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we have all had to adapt and embrace technical solutions to continue our important work freeing children from exploitation. With many offenders identifying children spending more time online as an opportunity to exploit, the Australian child protection sector was agile in its response, and we saw many organisations adapt their awareness and education delivery models in line with social distancing restrictions.

Since commencing in May as the Commander of the ACCCE, Child Protection Operations and Human Trafficking, the team has been transitioning towards a new structure. I would like to introduce Detective Superintendent ACCCE Operations, Christopher Woods. Detective Superintendent Woods brings a wealth of experience and has held a number of roles in Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigations, surveillance, intelligence, capacity building, international and Counter Terrorism.

I would like to thank Detective Superintendent Dan Evans who has been responsible for implementing the establishment of the ACCCE, and I thank him for his efforts in leading the ACCCE implementation project. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson who performed the Commander ACCCE. Superintendent Hudson will now lead the AFP Child Protection Operations Human Trafficking, and ACCCE Prevention teams. I would also like to thank Ms Jodie McEwan for leading ACCCE Prevention and wish her the best of luck as she transfers with the National Missing Persons team as part of a program to resolve long-term missing persons across Australia through unidentified human remains.

The ACCCE Child Protection Triage Unit reported a 122% increase in public reports of online child sexual exploitation to ACCCE in April – June 2020; compared to the same period in 2019. We have also seen some exceptional operational outcomes these past months with the AFP and State and Territory delivering maximum impact to the frontline criminal environment. Operation ARKSTONE is one recent notable example which is believed to be one of the biggest domestic child exploitation networks uncovered in recent times with multiple Australians charged and children removed from harm across domestic jurisdictions.

In partnership with the AFP and ThinkUKnow, we amplified our awareness and education efforts to prevent the incidence and impact of online child sexual exploitation during the pandemic. Reaching an estimated audience of more than 15 million, which contributed to the 611% increase in visitors to the ACCCE website reporting page. We also recently marked a milestone on the ACCCE Facebook with over 3300 followers – our Child Safety Champions. The page provides the community with important information in the online child sexual exploitation space, including education resources, operational outcomes and reporting details.

While there are many unknowns facing us all due to the pandemic, it is certain that we will continue to harness the power of technology across our four pillars — preparing; preventing; protecting and pursuing. Our work evaluating child protection systems and identifying opportunities for technological uplift will continue in order to achieve our goal in delivering best practice solutions with improved workflow processes and capabilities for national collaboration.

Commander Jamie Strauss


Feature articles


A quote from eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant
"Safety considerations should be at the core of design" says eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant

Safety by Design

Safety by Design (SbD) is an initiative led by the eSafety Commissioner (eSafety) that places the safety and rights of users at the centre of the design, development and deployment of online products and services.

The initiative requires companies to change the ethos of service design by assessing risk upfront and systematically incorporating safety protections from end to endfrom inception and throughout the product development lifecycle. It aims to encourage and assist industry to take a proactive and consistent approach to user safety when developing online products and services.

Through a deep consultation process with industry and other key stakeholders, an agreed set of SbD Principles were developed in 2019. The principles offer a universal and consistent set of realistic, actionable, and achievable measures to better protect and safeguard the community when online:

  1. Service provider responsibilities – service providers take preventative steps in service design to evaluate and minimise the risk of known and anticipated harms.
  2. User empowerment and autonomy – service providers recognise user dignity and best interests as a central tenets of service design and support, amplify, and strengthen user agency and autonomy by allowing them greater control, governance, and regulation of their own experiences — particularly when their safety is, or is at risk of being, compromised.
  3. Transparency and accountability – service providers operate according to their published safety objectives and work to educate and empower users about steps they can take to address safety concerns.

To help companies, from start-ups to more mature tech giants, eSafety is developing a suite of resources and guidance  — including a SbD assessment tool — to enable companies to understand potential harms, assess the risks to users on their platforms, and provide them with ideas and best practice innovations to build safety protections in at the front end. Once finalised, these resources will be shared with international partners to help develop a consistent global approach to online safety.

Complementing the Safety by Design initiative are the Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse which were launched in March. This baseline framework of 11 voluntary principles outlines the expectations for online service providers in helping to prevent and reduce the child sexual abuse risks that manifest online.

For more information on the SbD Framework, visit esafety.gov.au/about-us/safety-by-design

The Voluntary Principles are available at weprotect.org/products.


Graphic stating legislation amendment and ACCCE logo
 

Legislation reform to better combat Child Sexual Abuse

New legislation to strengthen the Commonwealth’s criminal justice response to child sexual abuse came into effect on 22 June 2020.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Act amends the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) to:

  • help address emerging trends in online child sexual abuse offending
  • respond to recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  • ensure that sentencing for Commonwealth child sex offences reflect the seriousness of these crimes and the harm to victims.

The Act strengthens the criminal justice response by clarifying the definition of ‘engage in sexual activity’ to include live-streamed abuse via the internet or phone, increasing the maximum penalties for certain Commonwealth child sex offences, and creating:

  • mandatory minimum penalties for certain Commonwealth child sex offences
  • new aggravated offences for child sexual abuse that targets particularly damaging and violent conduct
  • new offences for the ‘grooming’ of third parties (like parents or carers) to gain access to a child for sexual activity
  • new offences for the provision of electronic services, such as websites and chat forums, to facilitate dealings with child abuse material online.

For more information visit the Parliament of Australia website.


ACCCE technology update

Online crime is becoming increasingly prevalent. To combat the increasing number and severity of reports of online child exploitation, both in Australia and internationally, the ACCCE is delivering an industry best practice technology solution. The ACCCE has dedicated time and resources to build a fundamental technical infrastructure, allowing improvements to existing AFP child protection system capabilities.

The solution will offer improved workflow processes and capabilities for national collaboration. Members working within Child Protection will find efficiencies to the processing of child abuse material, by reducing existing and duplicate reports. The solution will allow for integration with current systems used for tracking, processing and analysing online child exploitation reports and associated child abuse material into one platform, accessible from multiple locations. This capability will provide time savings and faster Australia-wide access, meaning more children can be rescued and more offenders prosecuted.

Delivery of the planned technical improvements are scheduled for completion by financial year end (30 June 2021), with future enhancements planned through to mid-2022.


ACCCE engagement


Expert enhancements

In June 2020, the ACCCE and Queensland Police Service (QPS) signed a letter of engagement to build unprecedented capability within the ACCCE to identify victims of child sexual exploitation and dramatically enhance Australia’s ability to rescue these children from harm.

Eight specialists from the world-leading QPS Taskforce Argos will be embedded within the ACCCE’s Victim Identification Unit to create a hub of world-renowned child protection experts from across the globe. The merger will also involve technological enhancements that will significantly improve the accuracy of police operations and investigations to detain offenders and rescue victims.


Image of four female students currently collaborating with the ACCCE
University of Queensland students visit the ACCCE in Brisbane

Engaging future professionals

Study is one of the many pathways for a career in the Child Protection industry. The ACCCE is committed to helping university students develop their expertise and meaningfully contribute towards the fight against child abuse and exploitation.

Two criminology students from the University of Queensland are collaborating with the ACCCE to complete their research theses exploring risk factors and cognitive distortions of online child sexual exploitation offenders and Australian community perceptions of child sex offender interventions. It is anticipated these research projects will inform ACCCE prevention work, such as projects targeting offenders and offender disruption.

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted their initial plan to regularly work from the ACCCE building, the students have adapted by undertaking visits to the ACCCE building in Brisbane and maintaining regular contact with the ACCCE through the use of technology.

In July, the students visited the ACCCE to meet with members, explore the purpose-built building, and discuss their research.


A graphic depicting the ACCCE, yourtown, Standbyu and Daniel Morcombe Foundation logos
 

ACCCE shared workspace pilot a success

Last month saw a milestone for the ACCCE, hosting a trial of the first collaboration with non-government organisations in the shared workspace at the facility in Brisbane.

Representatives from the Daniel Morecombe Foundation, YourTown and the StandbyU Foundation used the space to host meetings, while engaging with key operational teams in the ACCCE. The visit also provided the opportunity to discuss potential future projects and stakeholder engagements.

The pilot was seen as a success by the participants and ACCCE representatives, which will see the space used for ongoing stakeholder opportunities as part of the ACCCE’s collaborative national approach.


Partner news


Image of four people pointing to a TV showing the broadcast event of Australia's Biggest Child Safety Lesson
The online broadcast of Australia's Biggest Child Safety Lesson: (l-r) Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson, Commander Jamie Strauss, Denise Morcombe, Bruce Morcombe

Australia's Biggest Child Safety Lesson

Commander Jamie Strauss and Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson from the ACCCE joined the Daniel Morcombe Foundation for their online broadcast event of Australia’s Biggest Child Safety Lesson on 25 June 2020.

The focus of the safety lesson was online child safety strategies for children aged 8 to 12 years-old. This is increasingly relevant to ensuring child safety as children, young people, and child sex offenders are spending more time online due to COVID-19.

A second safety lesson focusing on online child safety strategies for children aged 4 to 7 years-old will be livestreamed on 10 September 2020 during National Child Protection Week.

To learn more or to view the safety lesson, visit the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.


New resources

Over recent months, our non-government partners have released a number of resources to help parents and carers, educators, and others working with children and young people.

The ACCCE in collaboration with ThinkUKnow, AFP, Alannah & Madeline Foundation, eSafety Commissioner, and early childhood experts launched ‘Playing IT Safe’, an early learning resource designed for young children, parents, carers and educators in May. The resource comprises a series of play-based activities to promote learning about online safety in the classroom and at home. For more information, visit playingitsafe.org.au

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation recently launched the ‘Media Literacy Lab’, their latest digital teaching and learning resource for students aged 12-16 years-old to help support safer online communities across Australia. The resource comprises six ‘gamified’ modules that align with the Foundation’s eSmart curriculum to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to spot ‘fact’ from ‘opinion’ when engaging with media sources. For more information, visit medialiteracylab.org.au

The Carly Ryan Foundation released ‘Settings: A quick guide’ booklet containing information on how to manage privacy and other settings on mobile phones and various online applications and social media platforms. Other resources also available include app factsheets, a family online safety contract, and a new device checklist. For more information and access to all resources from the Carly Ryan Foundation, visit carlyryanfoundation.com/resources

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation has released a number of resources, including ‘Morky’s Safety Mission’ — a free educational board game to help explore child safety with children and young people; the latest episode of Australia’s Biggest Child Safety Lesson which focused on online safety strategies for children aged 8 to 12 years with complementary activities and resources. For access to all resources from the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, visit https://danielmorcombe.com.au

The eSafety Commissioner has developed a range of resources to help Australians stay safer online during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes targeted online safety advice for parents and carers, educators, young people, older Australians, and women in domestic and family violence situations. For more information, visit esafety.gov.au/covid-19.

ThinkUKnow has launched a suite of home learning activities on topics such as safer online interactions and online grooming (ages 13-14), personal information and image sharing (ages 8-12), online supervision (ages 5-8), and safer gaming and smart usernames (ages 8-12); a colouring-in activity to help start discussions at home about online safety; and live streamed presentation for parents, carers and teachers to prevent online child sexual exploitation. For more information, visit thinkuknow.org.au/


ACCCE news


Changes to the AFP’s categorisation system

The AFP is transitioning to a more streamlined system when categorising Child Abuse Material (CAM). It will move from a 9-tier categorisation model to a 4-tier categorisation system. The 4-tier system is based on the INTERPOL standard and is already used by other law enforcement agencies.

Benefits of the 4-tier system include:

  • a reduction in the amount of time investigators are exposed to CAM
  • more time to dedicate to investigations and victim identification
  • international consistency and an improved ability to share hash data sets with international partners
  • improved efficiency when compiling briefs of evidence
  • the presentation of evidence is simplified, expediting the judicial process.

As the new categorisation is dependent on a new technological system, more details will be forthcoming.


Statistics, trends, and issues

The Child Protection Triage Unit (CPTU) has identified that the ACCCE has received 21,668 incoming reports of child exploitation from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. Of these incoming reports, 11,325 occurred between 1 January and 30 June 2020.

Recently, the CPTU has encountered a disturbing trend of ‘viral’ social media content containing child abuse and exploitation material being shared by community members who may be concerned, morally outraged, attempting to identify victims, or sharing for amusement.

It is important to remember that behind such content is a child who is being abused. Sharing this content, regardless of your intention, is an offence with serious consequences and continues the cycle of abuse. The only action you should take is to report the content to appropriate authorities. To learn more on how and where to report visit: accce.gov.au/report


AFP adopt National Principles for Child Safe Organisations

The AFP is currently implementing the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework as recommended under the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In June, the AFP adopted the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations with Commissioner Kershaw making a Statement of Commitment to being a Child Safe Organisation.

As part of the implementation, the AFP is finalising a Child Safe Handbook to ensure all AFP and ACCCE appointees are aware of and comply with the Framework and National Principles. The Handbook sets out the  approach to promoting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people through the day-to-day work of AFP and ACCCE appointees including responsibilities, accountability, risk assessments and mitigation, working with children checks, training, wellbeing, procurement, privacy and reporting — both mandatory and internal.

A Child Safe Survey was recently undertaken to ascertain the organisation’s level of engagement with children and to identify gaps and opportunities to ensure the organisation is child safe. The AFP is also reviewing and enhancing child safe training within the organisation as part of its commitment to the National Principles.


Face of the ACCCE

The ‘Face of the ACCCE’ introduces you to the ACCCE team; their roles, responsibilities and personalities!


Image of Warren Bulmer
ACCCE Product Owner Warren Bulmer

We spoke to Warren...

Tell us about your role at the ACCCE?

I am what is referred to as a Product Owner. The role comes from the ‘Agile’ methodology which combines the business with contractors and employees to successfully deliver a project. As the Product Owner, I represent the business needs and guide the project team to deliver or enhance capability. Essentially, I work for the operational people to maintain and increase their ability to protect and rescue children.  I am responsible for ensuring they have the tools to do their job.

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

It’s hard to pick a single event from a 30-year career as a police officer in Canada. I am proud of numerous things I was a part of. I have pulled people from burning buildings, arrested and convicted murderers as well as identified children depicted in horrible abuse. But I am most proud to know I have made a difference to someone, somewhere along the way, regardless of where I worked or in what role. I always upheld my oath as a public servant and served the public with respect, honour, and integrity.

What do you want to be remembered for when you retire?

Technically, I have already retired once. I’d like to be remembered as a professional with deep knowledge of policing and tireless work ethic. I know I will be remembered as being outspoken and not willing to accept excuses when standing up for what was right. I have also spent much of my career teaching or helping others so I hope they will remember me for my contributions.

Who did you look up to growing up?

I didn’t really have a specific role model, but watching my mother raise me and my siblings through some difficult times taught me a lot about life. You can’t always control the cards you are dealt, but it is up to you how you play them — no matter how little you have, sometimes it is enough!

What interests you most about working at the ACCCE?

I was given an opportunity to extend my law enforcement career and concentrate on providing the techniques and tools I often craved back when I was the one doing the work. Many times I have heard we couldn’t do something because of various reasons. Now, I get to be the one to help make these decisions and drive changes required to make the ACCCE world leading. I am honoured.

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

I had started and left a job teaching as a part-time Professor at the post-secondary education level in Canada. That was my retirement plan. I would go back to taking what I have had the privilege of learning and providing education to students looking to a career in law enforcement or other investigative or regulatory mandates.

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

If I had my wish, I would like invite a colleague from Canada, Arnold Guerin, who has worked on the RCMP Child Exploitation Coordination Centre for over a decade. Arnold and I have worked, travelled and taught together all over the world. We share a passion for learning, teaching and helping others with technical solutions. Canada is a safer place for children because of Arnold.

Favourite song?

‘Everlong’ by the Foo Fighters — not because of the song itself, I prefer country music — but because it has meaning to my relationship with my girlfriend back home. It represents meeting her 30 years ago, despite the fact we have only been in a relationship for two years now. It’s quite the story…

Words of advice for people concerned about online child exploitation?

Understand that the exploitation of children is a societal issue. We all have a role to play in successfully making a difference in the life of a child — police enforce the law, legislators improve the law, prosecutors and judges convict the guilty, exonerate the innocent, and apply appropriate sentences. Social workers help heal victims, industry stop allowing their platforms to be co-opted for illegal activities, and the public hold the others accountable for doing their part.

Figure out what you can offer to make a difference, plan, and execute.


Upcoming events 2020

September

6-12National Child Protection Week
9-10Online Safety 2020 Conference, Wellington New Zealand
10Daniel Morcombe Foundation’s Biggest Child Safety Lesson Broadcast
10R U OK Day
11White Balloon Day

October

10Day for Daniel
30Walk for Daniel

Contact the ACCCE

Only by working together can we combat the online exploitation of children.

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

Visit www.accce.gov.au/report for details on how to report crime.

Ask the ACCCE a question, provide feedback or suggest content for future newsletters at www.accce.gov.au/contact-us.

Follow the ACCCE on Facebook (ACCCEgovau) and Twitter (@ACCCE_AUS).


ACCCE logoVision: Children are free from exploitation
Mission: To drive a collaborative national response to counter the exploitation of children


Subscribe to the ACCCE newsletter