Newsletter - December 2020

ACCCE quarterly

Working together to counter online child exploitation

A profile image of Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale wearing the AFP uniform

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale

Foreword from Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale

Welcome to the final edition of the ACCCE newsletter for 2020. As the year draws to a close, we’re taking time to reflect on ‘our people’ which also happens to be the theme of this edition. It is only with the unwavering efforts and resolve of our people that we can rise together to fight against online child sexual exploitation.

While this year has seen much change to both our working and personal environments, I commend the way our members have responded to challenging circumstances and the positive impact they continue to make on the Australian community. I extend this gratitude to our valued partners and stakeholders without whom we could not achieve such significant outcomes.

This month we welcomed our incoming Commander of the ACCCE, Hilda Sirec. Commander Sirec joined the AFP in 2001 and over the course of her 19-year career has worked in dedicated roles across ACT Policing, International Command and Counter Terrorism. This includes experience in adult and child sexual assault teams. I know Commander Sirec is very much looking forward to meeting with you all in the New Year.

Since our last edition, we have had a number of significant operational achievements and events, including the official opening of the ACCCE by the Minister for Home Affairs, The Hon Peter Dutton.

Building on the successes of its first year, the ACCCE recently celebrated its two-year milestone. It was a time to reflect on the achievements of 2019-2020 which saw more than 21,000 reports received by the ACCCE Child Protection Triage Unit, 134 children removed from harm, 161 AFP arrests and 1,214 AFP charges laid. The significant outcomes from a range of significant nationwide investigations into networks of alleged sex offenders, including Operation Molto.

A particular acknowledgement goes to the ACCCE Victim Identification Unit and their efforts that led directly to the quick and successful arrest of an offender in Utah, USA. Their commitment to collaborating with our international partners not only achieves effective results but is widely respected by all in the child protection industry.

This year, we have also welcomed many of our Australian and international partners to collaborate in the now officially-opened, purpose-built ACCCE facility in Brisbane. Socially distanced discussions in collaborative work space have ranged from operational matters to focusing on education and prevention measures, and directly addressing the challenges raised in the market research released by the ACCCE earlier this year.

Program engagement with Joint Anti Child Exploitation Teams (JACET) and State and Territory child protection partners has also continued, with planned capability enhancements and technology investments continuing.

With the unrelenting and serious issue of online child sexual exploitation presenting further challenges for us in 2021, I would like to highlight the importance of rallying together to protect our children.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale

Feature articles

Minister for Home Affairs, The Hon Peter Dutton and AFP Commissioner Reece P KershawGuests gather at the socially distanced opening event
Minister for Home Affairs, The Hon Peter Dutton, joined by Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece P Kershaw APM and distinguished guests to officially open the ACCCE

The ACCCE officially opens

On Friday 23 October, the new purpose-built ACCCE facility was officially opened by the Minister for Home Affairs, The Hon Peter Dutton.

The Minister was joined by AFP Commissioner Reece P Kershaw APM and distinguished guests, including State and Territory police, representatives from the Carly Ryan Foundation, the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, and other child protection advocates.

The world leading facility creates an effective work environment for the efficient processing and prioritisation of online child exploitation reports and technical solutions to enable effective real-time sharing of information and victim identification capabilities.

The opening also commemorated the life of Carly Ryan—whose life was tragically taken by an offender who groomed her online—through the placement of her memorial quilt within the facility. The quilt has serves as a powerful motivator for our members and stakeholders.

Watch the opening here (embedded video).

Participants undertaking the training
The ACCCE’s Victim Identification Unit delivering the first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop for the new 4-tier Child Abuse Material (CAM) Categorisation system

ACCCE delivers training on new Child Abuse Material categorisation

The ACCCE’s Victim Identification Unit recently and successfully delivered the first ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop for the new 4-tier system for categorising Child Abuse Material (CAM).

Six external Brisbane-based investigators were trained in the 4-tier model which is replacing the previous 9-tier model.

The 4-tier system is based on the INTERPOL standard and offers benefits including:

  • 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
  • simplification in the presentation of evidence, expediting the judicial process.

As borders continue to open and restrictions ease, it is anticipated the newly trained investigators will train their interstate colleagues on the model, ensuring national law enforcement consistency.

ACCCE engagement

AFP Commissioner Reece P Kershaw signing the MOU
AFP Commissioner Reece P Kershaw APM signs the Memorandum of Understanding

Working together to achieve a common goal: AFP and eSafety Memorandum of Understanding

The AFP and the eSafety Commissioner have a long-standing relationship where both parties work collaboratively on a range of Commonwealth matters relating to child protection. This relationship was recently formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen the partnership and enhance reporting, education and prevention mechanisms and initiatives.

The ultimate goal: facilitate positive outcomes for Australian children who are vulnerable to a range of online harms.

ACCCE hosts third Online Child Exploitation Wellbeing Dialogue Working Group

On Wednesday 11 November, the ACCCE was privileged to virtually deliver the third Online Child Exploitation Wellbeing Dialogue Working Group. The discussion brought together key stakeholders from our State and Territory police counterparts, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Signals Directorate, Australian New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency, National Office for Child Safety and the eSafety Commissioner.

Building on the outcomes from the last working group, topics included psychological support for policy and support teams regarding Child Abuse Material (CAM), the impact COVID has had on CAM operations and psychological service delivery, systems for tracking exposure to CAM, and the use of lead indicators for early intervention among others.

The discussion also highlighted the important role colleagues and managers play in managing the health and wellbeing of individuals.

Tim Grenfell, AFP Chief Psychologist and Chair, Online Child Exploitation Wellbeing Dialogue, said: “The dialogue identified the value of good leadership in teams working with CAM. Understanding the needs of employees and the challenges they face is an important aspect of effective leadership in the CAM space. Furthermore, supportive colleagues have been identified as being important in minimising stress within a work CAM environment, and the leader is central to establishing a good team dynamic”.

It was also found that many of the stressors that negatively impact staff working in the child exploitation area are organisational factors rather than exposure to CAM. As an action item, agencies will give consideration to mitigation strategies that operate at an organisational or team level to help combat some of the identified pressures.

Thank you to all those involved in a productive dialogue, we look forward to continued collaboration and developing practical solutions to maintain the wellbeing of our people.

A graph reiterating the message of report it. Don't share it.

Report it, don't share it joint initiative

Earlier this year, the ACCCE Child Protection Triage Unit identified a concerning increase in circulating reports from members of the community about Child Abuse Material (CAM). In addition to being shared by offenders, the material was also being perpetuated by unintentional offenders through social media platforms and chats.

The reasons for sharing the illegal content ranged from reasons of concern and outrage to the attempted efforts of identifying victims.

In response to this concern and to generate awareness about the issue, the ACCCE Strategic Engagement Team and AFP Online Child Safety Team partnered with the eSafety Commissioner to establish a social media campaign ‘Report It, Don’t Share It’. Focussed on deterring unintentional offenders from disseminating CAM across social media platforms, the campaign:

  • raised awareness of the legal and social consequences of viewing and distributing CAM
  • educated the community on the impacts of CAM
  • encouraged appropriate reporting of CAM.

The initiative was successful and resulted in significant engagement on the AFP, ACCCE and ACT Policing social media platforms, achieving a combined reach of more than 245,800 people. The content was also shared on Twitter and Facebook nearly 1,000. In addition, a short animation created to support the campaign was viewed more than 20,000 times.

This is just one example of the collaborative nature of the ACCCE and its partnership with the eSafety Commissioner, now underpinned by the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding.

If you see child abuse material online, report it, don’t share it. Sharing child abuse material online – even if you think you are doing the right thing – is a crime, and perpetuates the cycle of abuse for victims. You can report child abuse material to:

To report inappropriate contact with children online visit:

Partner news

Day for Daniel reaches a record
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation has been busy in its work to prevent child sexual abuse with Australia’s largest day of action for child safety, Day for Daniel, taking place on 30 October.

Crime Stoppers helping keep children safe
As Australia’s pre-eminent information receiving service for people wanting to share what they know about unsolved crime and suspicious activity, Crime Stoppers is the trusted link between the community and police.

New offender intervention research
The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of the ACCCE’s key academic stakeholders. UQ Lecturer in Criminology Dr Jonah Rimer recently released a paper analysing a psychoeducational intervention for online child sexual abuse material offenders.

Grant to assist Kids Helpline’s capacity to help children
Yourtown has received a $900,000 scale grant through Westpac Group’s 2020 Impact Grants program to develop, pilot and evaluate a practice model that expands and enhances Kids Helpline’s capacity to respond to children and young people who have been or are at risk of sexual exploitation or abuse.

National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
On 22 October 2020, the Prime Minister commemorated the second anniversary of the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

National Memorial to Victim and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
As part of the October 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Australian Government announced funding to establish a National Memorial to Victim and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

Updates to the Commonwealth Child Safe Framework
The Commonwealth Child Safe Framework (CCSF) was introduced across Australian Government entities in response to findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Creating child safe organisations - workshops available 
Children do best when we all understand our roles in creating organisations that are safe and nurturing for all children.

National Child Protection Week webinar recordings available 
The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect thanks everyone who contributed to making National Child Protection Week 2020 (6 - 12 September) an engaging and meaningful week. Recordings of the webinars are now available on NAPCAN’s website.

Playing IT Safe educator workshops
Playing IT Safe is a new resource for early childhood educators and parents that supports young children to begin developing an understanding of online safety.

Act for Kids launches Act for Kids Academy
Act for Kids has proudly launched Act for Kids Academy, a world-class evidence based training program designed to be completed by corporations and community organisations that work directly or indirectly with children.

At its recent AGM, PartnerSPEAK heard from three key people who fight against child sexual abuse – Four Corners reporter Louise Milligan, Detective Inspector Jon Rouse from the ACCCE and the Hon. Peter Dutton MP.

ACCCE news

White balloon day collage
ACCCE members show their support for White Balloon Day

ACCCE celebrates National Child Protection Week

National Child Protection Week, led by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), is an annual campaign raising awareness about child abuse and neglect and ensuring child wellbeing remains on the national agenda.

This year, NCPW celebrated its 30th year with the theme ‘putting children first’. Being at the core of the ACCCE daily operations, this theme guided a week of collaborative and awareness raising activities.

The week kicked-off with Father’s Day with a video of Commander of the ACCCE, Child Protection Operations and Human Trafficking Detective Superintendent Christopher Woods reading Teatree’s Keep and Speak Secrets by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. This book teaches children about different types of secrets and the importance of speaking to a safe adult if they feel uncomfortable.

On Tuesday 8 September, AFP Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson joined Kidspot in a Facebook live discussion about empowering children online and where to go to report and get support.

This was followed by a productive and collaborative workshop with key prevention stakeholders in child protection. Hosted at the ACCCE facility in Brisbane, the day brought together representatives from government, non-government and industry organisations to discuss opportunities for education and awareness initiatives.

The AFP announced the establishment of an AFP and Queensland Police Service Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (JACET) in Cairns. As one of two Queensland based JACETS, this joint arrangement bolsters efforts to investigate child exploitation matters with committed investigators working side-by-side and complementing the efforts of the ACCCE.

As the week drew to a close, White Balloon Day provided a timely reminder about the role we all play in protecting children and young people from sexual assault and exploitation. As always, our ACCCE members rallied together to show demonstrate their support.

For more information about NAPCAN visit

Graphics tech

End-to-End Encryption and Public Safety

The Australian Government – along with its Five Eyes intelligence alliance consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada – has signed a joint statement calling on industry to work with governments to ensure that their encrypted systems are designed to protect the community. The statement received a recent boost with the Governments of India and Japan joining the cause.

The International Statement: End-to-End Encryption and Public Safety supports strong encryption while calling on technology companies to engage in meaningful consultation with governments to embed the safety of the public in system designs, and enable law enforcement access to harmful and suspicious content in a readable and usable format.

Anonymising technologies are being used by child sex offenders and other criminals to conceal their activities. Encryption, specifically end-to-end encryption, erodes the ability of companies to detect and report harmful and illegal activity on their platforms and impedes the ability of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute serious crimes.

Podcast graphic

Building a community presence

As awareness about online child sexual abuse and exploitation grows, so too does the need for information and education about this serious issue. In light of this, the ACCCE is undertaking two exciting endeavours – a new website and podcast production.

As an important touchpoint and source of information for the community and child protection sector alike, the website will embrace an improved user experience and reflect the state-of-the-art, collaborative and dynamic nature of the organisation and its work. Currently in the development phase, the new website is set to ‘go live’ in early 2021.

In an ACCCE first, a podcast series is being developed in partnership with the AFP to provide an informative and unique Australian perspective on the work being undertaken to prevent, deter and pursue child sexual abuse and exploitation. ACCCE market research released earlier this year revealed a lack of understanding and conversation about the issue, with only half of parents talking to their children about online safety.

The 10-part series will tackle the scale of the issue, victim’s experiences, offender behaviour, advocacy, prevention and government intervention as well as many more sides to what is an inherently complex issue.

With more than 60 interviews recorded as part of the series, the podcast will feature a cross-section of government agencies, child sexual abuse survivors, secondary victims of crime, investigators, forensic psychologists, Australian families, education professionals, academics and international counterparts.

The podcast is also scheduled for release in early 2021. Stay tuned!

Minister Dutton, US Ambassador and Lesa GaleMembers gather to greet the US Ambassador
ACCCE members gather to greet the United States Ambassador to Australia, Arthur Boggess Culvahouse Jr

US Partnership continues to grow

Online child exploitation is a global problem that requires a global response. The ACCCE has many relationships that reach internationally and continues to actively build upon these partnerships including those with the United States.

Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting the United States Ambassador to Australia, Arthur Boggess Culvahouse Jr at the ACCCE facility.
The US Homeland Security Investigations has been a key partner in Operation Arkstone, partnering with the AFP during search warrant activity, and using intelligence leads generated to identify potential links.

This collaboration has resulted in the AFP referring 18 matters to the United States for further investigation, with three men arrested for multiple CAM offences.

In October 2020, five ACCCE members were recognised by HSI for their excellence in child protection through operational efforts such as rescuing children in the United States of America and Operation Walwa.

Our collaborative efforts with the United States are further enhanced every day in the ACCCE, through our excellent working relationship with US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The ACCCE receives the majority of reports relating to online child abuse material via NCMEC, and NCMEC refers any material that may depict an Australian victim, offender or location.

Face of the ACCCE: Detective Sergeant Sally Macdonald

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

Image of Sally Macdonald
ACCCE Training Design Team Leader Detective Sergeant Sally Macdonald

We spoke to Sally...

Tell us about your role at the ACCCE

I am the Team Leader of the ACCCE Training Design Team. We support specialist teams by developing curriculum and coordinating training to ensure national consistency and capability across all agencies. This ranges from things like Victim Identification right through to more technical based workshops, ensuring all our law enforcement agencies are best equipped in the fight against online child exploitation.

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

I would have to say my role working as a Family Investigative Liaison Officer (FILO) which is a part time role that was created in 2002 after the Bali Bombings. FILOs respond to critical incidents offshore and support AFP investigations and the families and victims affected by these traumatic incidents. I never fail to be impressed by the calibre of my colleagues working on such challenging investigations, and I have met some wonderful people who were unfortunately impacted.

What skills are you eager to contribute to the ACCCE?

I have spent the last few years posted to Malaysia and now have a good network of law enforcement colleagues around South East Asia. After making the AFP my life long career I should be able to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, ranging from administrative processes through to managing people and being resilient.

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

I’m eager for the COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted to enable some of our international experts and interstate law enforcement participants to be able to come to the ACCCE to deliver the specialist training we have identified. We are making use of online delivery but nothing can replace building relationships and networks face-to-face.

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

I’d be a volunteer baby ‘cuddler’ at the local hospital – yes it is a real thing!

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

Cristiano Ronaldo – I believe he has the most Instagram followers in the world so we could use his influence to shine a light on the ACCCE and get our messages out there!

Favourite song, book or movie—and why?

“A Fortunate Life” by Albert Facey. It’s a really inspirational memoir of enduring hardship and true Aussie spirit. A must read for every Australian.

Words of advice for people concerned about online child exploitation?

Follow the ACCCE on Social Media – you’ll find plenty of advice and tools for children, parents and teachers. Also our ACCCE website is a one stop shop containing links to all our partners – it’s an invaluable resource for everyone.

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 for details on how to report crime.

Ask the ACCCE a question, provide feedback or suggest content for future newsletters at

Follow the ACCCE on Facebook (@ACCCEaus) 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