International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children Australia Ltd

ICMEC Australia News

Supporting innovative data-driven initiatives through our Child Protection Fund

April 3, 2024

ICMEC Australia’s Child Protection Fund (CPF) provides support to data and technology-driven approaches that reduce and prevent sexual exploitation of children across several areas, including data acquisition, technological solutions and ecosystem strengthening.

Our CPF is carefully tailored to respond to the needs and issues identified by stakeholders on the frontlines of responding to Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and takes a targeted approach that aims to support and grow programs that catalyse data, technology, and preventative approaches to reduce and prevent CSE.

Key recent highlights include :

As part of ICMEC Australia’s support towards ecosystem strengthening, Paul Griffiths from QPS has recently completed a world first Victim Identification Case Data Analysis program and presented his groundbreaking project to Interpol Specialist Group on Crimes Against Children in early March.

Collaborating with Australian and international law enforcement agencies, Paul reviewed close to 2,500 cases, of which 800 of these cases were found to have involved the use of one or more recognised technique, which resulted in the identification of the child, or children, depicted in the associated media and/or the identification of the suspected producer.

Detailed annotation of the investigative techniques disclosed 40 distinct techniques that had been successfully employed in previous cases. These techniques primarily rely on visual, digital, and intelligence-based/environmental clues. The analysis also made clear the importance of capturing and recording the techniques that have been applied in investigations, and flagging those that were successfully employed. Such a process not only assists in the review of unidentified cases, but also provides a mechanism going forward for the continued growth of corporate memory for the international victim identification community.

Queensland Police Service Argos Victim Identification Manager, Paul Griffiths, said he was honoured to be given the opportunity to carry out the study:

Another example of ICMEC Australia’s commitment to fortifying ecosystems in the fight against CSE is our partnership with Jesuit Social Services (JSS) supporting the expansion and development of their child sexual abuse prevention service – Stop It Now! – in Australia. The platform offers an anonymous helpline, chat and web resources for people concerned about their own sexual thoughts and behaviours towards children or to people concerned about the thoughts or behaviours of others – aiming to prevent child sexual abuse.

Tiphanie Au, Head of Impact at ICMEC Australia believes that:

ICMEC Australia saw a gap in the sector, with a much needed service needing interim support after coming to the end of its initial funding from Westpac’s Safer Children, Safer Communities grant program. The Child Protection Fund stepped in during this bridging phase and managed the partnership process in a very streamlined, but supportive way to create the best impact in the sector. This includes additional in-kind contributions from the broader ICMEC Australia team to enhance the program outcomes and ultimately prevent child sexual exploitation.

StopItNow! has seen significant success internationally, including the UK and Ireland. The current program that ICMEC Australia is supporting aims to further enhance the adaptation of this service to the Australian context.

Through the data and insights derived from this groundbreaking program, the knowledge base regarding the behaviours and characteristics of undetected offenders will be enhanced. This will in turn assist ICMEC Australia and other stakeholders in the child sexual exploitation response ecosystem to consider and develop innovative technological approaches to disrupt and prevent child sexual abuse offending from occurring in the first place.

RedCompass Labs, a UK-based payments expert services company, was one of ICMEC Australia’s first recipients of support from the CPF to advance technological approaches to combating CSE.
ICMEC Australia partnered with RedCompass Labs to localise the Global RedFlag Accelerator Typologies on CSE to make them easily accessible for the first time to Australian financial services institutions (FSI’s) via an online portal. The objective is to provide Australian financial services institutions with access to additional localised intelligence to assist their work in the detection and reporting of CSE. The development of these insights and analytics enhances financial institutions’ capabilities to identify crimes against children.

Under Phase 1, a working version of the Australian RedFlag Accelerator CSE Portal has been delivered. ICMEC Australia has further invested in RedCompass Labs to enhance the Portal under Phase 2, involving additional user testing and feedback from a pilot group of users, including Westpac. From March onwards, ICMEC Australia is collaborating with RedCompass Labs on a beta user program, extending portal access to additional financial services actively participating in ICMEC Australia’s Collaboration Working Group.

Mark Dickson, Executive Manager, Financial Intelligence Unit at Westpac Group, says,

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