The ACCCE’s new Brisbane office to open in April
In the first coordinated approach driven through the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE), officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and State and Territory police embarked on a month of action code-named Operation SOUTIEN.
Operation SOUTIEN commenced in early November following three days of intensive training provided by the ACCCE in specialised Child Protection Systems (CPS), delivered by the US-based Child Rescue Coalition.
The CPS training involved investigators from across Australian law enforcement, and was followed by a period of ‘target identification’, where State and Territory investigators and Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams (JACETs) used the training to identify targets relating to child exploitation offences in their specific jurisdictions.
As a result of the operation, which involved law enforcement members across the country, 22 people were charged with 56 offences, with more arrests expected. Individuals arrested including teachers, a basketball coach, and men living in close proximity to child care centres.
Detective Superintendent Dan Evans, who leads the operational elements of the ACCCE, said Operation SOUTIEN demonstrates the success that collaboration between Commonwealth and State and Territory law enforcement can achieve in the field of child protection.
Well done to all those involved.
In November, acting AFP National Coordinator Child Protection Operations Sergeant Kurt Wesche, ACCCE Operations Manager Inspector Jon Rouse, and Team Leader Child Protection Triage Unit Sergeant Tara Ducker attended the INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children.
The four-day meeting in Lyon, France, brought together 250 international experts from 70 countries to provide an overview of global efforts using case studies from successful investigations, best practices, national initiatives and campaigns, technical solutions, as well as victim protection mechanisms. The aim of the meeting is to develop a holistic approach to combating violent crimes against children, including sexual abuse and exploitation.
Thanks to its global network of specialised officers, INTERPOL’s Child Sexual Exploitation Database (ICSE) has contributed to the identification of more than 20,700 victims and 9,400 offenders.
The meeting was also the final meeting for Paul Griffiths of the Queensland Police Service, who stood down as the INTERPOL Specialist and the Victim Identification Group Chair after six and 10 years respectively. The ACCCE would like to acknowledge and congratulate Paul on the immense contribution made to the global effort to fight child exploitation. Jim Cole from the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations will now assume the role of Chair of the Victim Identification Group.
Members of the AFP and the ACCCE attend the 37th Meeting of the INTERPOL Specialist Group on Crimes against Children in Lyon
As part of International Volunteer Day, 5 December, the Minister for Home Affairs the Hon. Peter Dutton MP presented awards to ThinkUKnow volunteers at a ceremony at Parliament House.
Twenty volunteers were recognised for their commitment and dedication to providing online safety education to parents, carers and teachers. In 2018-19, ThinkUKnow presenters and volunteers delivered presentations to 222,594 students and almost 17,000 parents, carers and teachers.
For delivering 1,121 presentations to more than 104,000 students, the New South Wales Police Force were awarded ‘Youth Partner of the Year’.
ThinkUKnow is Australia’s first and only nationally delivered, law enforcement-led online child safety program and is in its 10th year of operation. Commendations were also awarded to five volunteers who have delivered online safety education to the community since the program’s inception.
ThinkUKnow is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police, the ACCCE, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Datacom, and Microsoft, and is delivered in collaboration with State and Territory police and Neighbourhood Watch Australasia.
Minister for Home Affairs the Hon. Peter Dutton MP with AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz and the 2019 ThinkUKnow Volunteer of the Year Award recipients
The ACCCE has partnered with the eSafety Commissioner and the AFP’s ThinkUKnow program to develop a guide to help schools effectively respond to instances of students sharing sexually explicit material.
‘A guide to dealing with the sharing of explicit material at your school’ provides advice on who to involve, where to report, how to deal with the material – and when to consult with police.
The guide, released last month (November), is designed to help school executives respond confidently and effectively to incidents that involve a student’s nude or sexual image/s or video/s being taken, shared, or threatened to be shared.
Research shows voluntarily self-produced images are one of the most common types of explicit material discovered by law enforcement. Since October 2017, eSafety has received more than 1,600 reports of image-based abuse. Of the reports made to eSafety about intimate images or videos being shared without consent, one third involve children under the age of 18.
eSafety notably also provides other support: “Help is here in more ways than one – we operate one of the only government-led services in the world to remove online image-based abuse material, as well as providing victims with a range of referral and support services”, said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.
The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the AFP and Tasmania Police, and the AFP and ACT Policing last month (November) finalised the national roll-out of the JACETs across all States and Territories, bolstering the efforts of law enforcement to combat the sexual exploitation of children across the country.
The JACET model co-locates AFP officers with State and Territory police Sex Crime Commands, or their equivalent.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz said, “We know in order to successfully identify, investigate and prosecute child sex offenders that we must work together. This JACET model will see our federal and State and Territory colleagues work side-by-side to undertake joint investigations, and share intelligence specific to their jurisdiction”.
Assistant Commissioner Platz said the AFP and State and Territory JACETs are working towards the greater goal of preventing and stamping out the sexual exploitation of children, complementing the efforts of the ACCCE.
The ACCCE wishes you warmest good wishes for a happy, peaceful, and restful Christmas and New Year. Working together, our New Year hope remains a world free of child exploitation.
Assistant Commissioner Crime Operations Debbie Platz, at the Child Exploitation and Protection workshop, 2019 Department of Home Affairs Industry Summit, Melbourne, 19 November 2019
The third ACCCE Prevention Awareness Working Group, which draws subject matter experts from Commonwealth agencies, non-government organisations and industry representatives, took place in October and was co-hosted by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation in Melbourne.
The working group focuses on coordinating awareness efforts including national information campaigns, communication programs and victim support.
At the meeting a mapping exercise was undertaken to determine current areas of effort and opportunities for future collaborative prevention initiatives.
There was also a presentation about the ‘Start the Chat’ social marketing campaign led by the Department of Communications and Arts, highlighting the successes, challenges and lessons learnt for future campaigns.
Tamara Newlands from eChildhood gave the working group an overview of pornography harm research and a public health approach to build online environments that children can thrive in.
The Prevention Education Working Group was held in Brisbane in September, to focus on a coordinated approach to education including education programs, training of non-law enforcement partners, and resources.
Attendees discussed the online child exploitation market research findings and shared relevant events and updates on implementation and strategies. Effective utilisation of resources, tools and policy initiatives was explored, and future education initiatives brainstormed.
The next Prevention Education Working Group is scheduled for March 2020.
The third ACCCE Research Working Group took place at the AFP College in Canberra this month (December). Chaired by Dr Russell Smith, Principal Criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology, the group draws subject matter experts from Commonwealth agencies, academia and non-government organisations. The working group focuses on coordinating research activity around the country and internationally.
At the meeting Dr Celine Van Golde of the University of Sydney presented research on the effects of repeated stress on cognitive functions and psychological wellbeing of individuals working in countering child exploitation roles.
The next working group is scheduled for early 2020.
Members of the ACCCE Research Working Group
AFP Deputy Commissioner Operations, Neil Gaughan, opened the second legal dialogue in Canberra last month (November). Twenty seven representatives from Commonwealth agencies, State and Territory police, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright attended the dialogue to discuss updates, opportunities and challenges in child exploitation-related legislative reform.
Attendees unanimously supported the need to transition towards an Australian four-tier categorisation system for child exploitation. The AFP and ACCCE will now work with partners to plan a future transition.
The second wellbeing dialogue was held in Canberra last month (November). Sixteen representatives from State and Territory police and Commonwealth agencies shared organisational updates and promising practices, and upcoming issues and trends. Also discussed was a standardised national graduated exposure policy, and a minimum standard to clear employees to work in a child exploitation materials area.
The dialogue aims to set a minimum standard for national mental health practices in online child exploitation teams and for child abuse investigators.
The Sunshine Coast basked in a sea of red on Friday 25 October to honour the memory of Daniel Morcombe – the 13-year-old who went missing in 2003 waiting to catch a bus on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
Members of the ACCCE Operations and Prevention teams participated in the 2019 Walk for Daniel: Australia’s largest national day of action to raise awareness of child safety, protection and prevention. Minister for Home Affairs the Hon. Peter Dutton MP, and crowd favourite, Elmo, also attended the walk.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation is a valued partner of the ACCCE and a member of the ACCCE Prevention Education Working Group.
The Hon. Peter Dutton MP also used the opportunity to announce $1.8 million in funding to the foundation. The funding will be used for the ‘Keeping Australia’s Kids Safe Program’, to increase awareness, confidence and the abilities of parents, carers and teachers to identify and respond to child sexual abuse.
In September, ACCCE representatives attended the eSafety19 conference in Sydney, along with speakers and guests from around the world who are dedicated to online safety.
The program focussed on two big picture issues: the major paradigm shifts already in play, and the practical approaches needed in coming years to successfully navigate the ever-changing tech landscape.
eSafety19 encouraged attendees to learn, innovate and participate in creating a safer online future.
ACCCE Detective Superintendent Dan Evans and ACCCE Operations Manager Jon Rouse formed part of the panel to discuss combating online child exploitation
In November, AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz facilitated the ‘Child Exploitation: What has gone wrong? What can we do?’ workshop as part of the annual Department of Home Affairs Industry Summit, held at the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne.
Esteemed panellists for the workshop included:
Assistant Commissioner Platz spoke about the current child exploitation environment – including that in 2018 tech companies reported a massive 45 million online photos and videos of child sexual abuse – the problems being faced, as well as some of the solutions already in play. The panel members spoke of their experiences and fielded questions from the workshop audience.
Topics centred on prevention, community engagement, target hardening, and technology. The summit itself was attended by more than 600 people representing the private sector and government, and several members of the tech industry have since reached out to help as a result of the summit.
The panel also explored social norms concerning child exploitation, education and prevention efforts including the establishment of the ACCCE, and awareness-raising initiatives among children to ensure they are safe online.
The Minister for Home Affairs the Hon. Peter Dutton MP, along with AFP Assistant Commissioner Debbie Platz and eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant attended the WePROTECT Global Summit this month (December) in Ethiopia.
The summit brought together international stakeholders, including Ministers, law enforcement and industry from across the globe to discuss the trends and responses to online child sexual exploitation.
Assistant Commissioner Platz met with a number of key ACCCE partners, including Microsoft, Thorn, the International and National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the UK National Crime Authority, and the Virtual Global Taskforce.
The WePROTECT Global Alliance was relaunched with the announcement of a new board, which includes Julie Inman Grant as an independent global expert. The 2019 Global Threat Assessment was also launched along with the Global Strategic Response to Online Child Sexual Exploitation.
You can now stay better informed on ACCCE happenings, and the community can more easily access information on what they can do to counter online child exploitation, via new Facebook and Twitter feeds on the ACCCE website.
The fit-out of the ACCCE’s new Brisbane premises is progressing well, with the collaborative spaces, breakout and rooftop terrace now complete.
The addition of state-of-the-art technology, and customised fittings and furnishings, will create an environment ideal for collaboration by experts and specialised personnel from law enforcement, government and non-government organisations, private industry and academia, with considerations of employee wellbeing incorporated in the design. The centre will provide world class facilities for the efficient processing and prioritisation of national online child exploitation reports.
At completion, the building will provide a focal point dedicated to countering the online exploitation of children, housed by approximately 75-100 staff including participation from partner agencies.
New legislation to combat child sexual exploitation was passed on 17 September 2019 and is now enforceable.
The Act introduces new offences, amends existing offences, and updates definitions to ensure Commonwealth legislation keeps up to date with emerging child sexual abuse trends, threats and international best practice. For example, the Act removes all references to ‘child pornography’ from Commonwealth legislation and regulations, with most now relying on an expanded version of the pre-existing ‘child abuse material’ definition. The expanded definition includes an explicit reference to child-like sex dolls, ensuring these items are considered child abuse material.
The Act also implements a number of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by:
The Act has already resulted in multiple offenders being charged across Australia for the new offence of possessing or controlling child abuse material obtained or accessed via a carriage service (e.g. the internet).
A delegation of child protection investigators from the Philippines National Police and the National Bureau of Investigations recently visited the ACCCE in Brisbane.
Delegates included Police Master Sergeant Reva Vicariato and Police Corporal Daisy Irish Villas, both from the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center – Visayas Field Unit. They were accompanied by Agent Gertrude Manandeg and Agent Kirk Pedro from the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division.
The delegation was briefed on each of the ACCCE teams; Covert Online Engagement, the Intelligence Fusion Cell, Child Protection Triage Unit, Prevention and Engagement and Victim Identification, before meeting with members of Taskforce ARGOS.
The Philippine visit is the outcome of an ongoing partnership between AFP Manila and Philippine authorities to expand cooperation and engagement in this crime type through targeted attachments to JACETs.
A delegation of child protection investigators from the Philippines National Police and the National Bureau of Investigations visited members at the ACCCE in Brisbane
The ‘Face of the ACCCE’ introduces you to the ACCCE team; their roles, responsibilities and personalities!
ACCCE Operations Manager
Federal Agent Adrian Morton is a newly appointed member of the ACCCE, part of its leadership team responsible for ensuring that effective and efficient operational, strategic and administrative outcomes are achieved.
We spoke with Adrian...
What interests you most about working at the ACCCE?
What was your previous role?
What would you like to achieve in the next 12 months within the ACCCE?
Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett.
26 December, 2019
Alannah & Madeline Foundation Boxing Day Test
The Alannah & Madeline Foundation is an Official Charity Partner of Cricket Australia, and the Boxing Day Test is one of the most important weeks to raise money to help Australian kids living with violence.
30 January, 2020
The U.K. Government’s 2nd Annual Child Sexual Exploitation Conference 2020
This event will give an update on the progress of the latest government reforms and initiatives by organisations working to tackle child sexual exploitation. It also provides practical examples of how the issue of child sexual exploitation is being successfully addressed by U.K. local government, education and the police.
19-22 July, 2020
8th Family Law & Children’s Rights Conference
To be held in Singapore, the ‘Through the Eyes of a Child’ conference is a major international event focussing on family law and family law processes and the rights of children and youth. Through the AFP’s partnership with the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights, the conference will include a specific law enforcement stream focussing on online child sexual exploitation.
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
Visit www.accce.gov.au/report for details on how to report crime.
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