International FIFA stars lend their voice to It’s a Penalty’s #KeepKidsSafe Campaign in a bid to raise awareness of child abuse and exploitation

SYDNEY – 6 JULY, 2023 It’s a Penalty, with the support of their partner ICMEC Australia, will launch their #KeepKidsSafe campaign on 6 July 2023 in the lead up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

With the recent Australian Childhood Maltreatment Study, revealing that one in three girls and one in five boys experience child sexual abuse in Australia – creating awareness and education about this issue is essential.

The It’s a Penalty #KeepKidsSafe campaign is dedicated to:

  • education about the need to safeguard children from abuse and exploitation, particularly in sport and from offenders in positions of trust, as well as the signs to look out for #knowthesigns
  • equipping children, parents and caregivers, sports organisations and coaches, sporting fans, tourists and the general public with ways to find support and how to report any concerns
  • encouraging people report suspected abuse or exploitation

The campaign incorporates a 30 second video featuring five international soccer stars competing in the Women’s World Cup, including  Australian players Kyah Simon and Lydia Williams, as well as New Zealand’s Fern Ria Percival, Brazil’s Rafaelle Souza and England Lioness Mary Earps.

“When I was asked to join the It’s a Penalty KeepKidsSafe Campaign, I didn’t hesitate,” said Lydia Williams (Football Goalkeeper – Australia). “Protecting children from abuse and exploitation, particularly in sport, is a great cause to be a part of. Sports unite people from all different backgrounds, cultures and countries and can be harnessed to unite us to contribute to issues that we feel strongly about. I’m proud to show my support for this important campaign and be a part of #TeamSafeSport.”

The video will be shown on international flights into Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, operated by Air New Zealand, Emirates, British Airways and Cathay Pacific during July and August to coincide with the FIFA Women’s World Cup competition.

Campaign posters will be displayed at Sydney and Brisbane Airports in Australia, and Auckland and Hamilton Airports in Aotearoa New Zealand. All advertising has been donated to It’s A Penalty in-kind in support of this important campaign.

“The abuse and exploitation of children is a critical issue that affects every corner of the world. No country, city or community is immune. By harnessing the platform of Women’s Football, the It’s a Penalty campaign is highlighting the importance of child protection and safeguarding, particularly in sport. Together with our incredible partners, the goal is to bolster child safety and leave a positive impact across the hosting countries of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, and the region as a whole,” said Sarah de Carvalho, CEO, It’s a Penalty.

“Past campaigns have shown us the substantial effect we can have. Last year, our most extensive campaign took place during the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. Post-campaign reports showed 96% of individuals felt more aware of child safety issues and felt better equipped to report concerns after seeing the It’s a Penalty campaign.”

The film and posters will be supported by wider community outreach. Full campaign activities are available on the It’s a Penalty #KeepKidsSafe website.

“We’re thrilled to be supporting this vital campaign and message. The sad reality is that child sexual exploitation is still very common, and yet it’s still in the dark – we have such limited conversations and awareness about it across society. It’s time to change that,” says Anna Bowden, CEO, ICMEC Australia.

“This issue is pervasive across so many aspects of life. And its effects are lifelong for victim survivors. Supporting all sectors and industries to enhance detection, reporting, prosecution and prevention of this crime is at the heart of our mission.”

The campaign will be launched officially at a Sydney panel event featuring:

  • Lisa De Vanna, Retired International Professional Football Player and Former Matilda
  • Jon Rouse APM, Founding Partner, Onemi-Global Solutions, Retired Detective Inspector, Former Head, Task Force Argos
  • Toby Dagg, acting COO, eSafety
  • Brigette McGuire, National Executive Manager, Australian Childsafeguarding Business Coalition

The panellists, facilitated by ICMEC Australia CEO Anna Bowden, will be discussing how we navigate child safeguarding in all aspects of life. The event will be MC’d by Helena Dorczak, Director, Women Sport Australia.


It’s a Penalty’s #KeepKidsSafe Campaign is supported by the following partners:

Supporting Partners

ICMEC Australia, Carlson Family Foundation, Sysdoc


Oceania Football Confederation, Bravehearts, In Good Faith Foundation, eSafety Commissioner, Netsafe, Safeguarding Children Initiative, This is How We Football and International Safeguards for Children in Sport


Additional Quotes from Partners

  • eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant“As the head of Australia’s online safety regulator I and my investigators see the devastating impacts of the sexual exploitation and abuse of children everyday and we know this abuse not only steals childhoods but also haunts survivors throughout the rest of their adult lives. The sexual abuse of children is so abhorrent it can often feel too dark to confront, but no problem is ever solved by ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist. And this is why It’s a Penalty’s #KeepKidsSafe Campaign is so important in forcing all of us to confront this issue. We know sport has the power to bring communities together and even to lift the spirits of entire nations. The #KeepKidsSafe campaign seeks to harness this incredible power to raise global awareness and help protect children from abuse and that’s a goal we should all get behind.“





About IAP

It’s a Penalty focuses on four key strategic areas to end human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. They run global awareness campaigns during major sporting events highlighting the telltale signs to look out for, and hotline numbers to make a report. Working in collaboration with the sports, travel & tourism industry, NGO’s and law enforcers; the campaigns are contextualised in the host cities and countries. It’s a Penalty has so far run 16 Campaigns during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Super Bowl and the Commonwealth Games, reaching an average of 180 million people worldwide per campaign. Alongside the Campaigns It’s a Penalty has three other programmes including CommonProtect, which advocates for legal reform to improve protection from sexual exploitation and abuse for children throughout the Commonwealth countries, Student Ambassador Network, which educates and raises up university students in UK to prevent human trafficking and exploitation and co-run Safe to Compete, a programme that trains sports coaches and parents of children in Little Leagues in the USA to prevent abuse and exploitation

About ICMEC Australia

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Australia (www.icmec.org.au) is an Australian-based not-for-profit that brings together commercial entities, government, law enforcement, and NGOs to develop collaborative actions to reduce the volume of child exploitation crimes within and from Australia. ICMEC Australia supports and develops data and technology driven solutions that facilitate and enhance the detection, reporting, prosecution and prevention of child sexual exploitation facilitated online.


Media contact:

Karen Porter
Marketing & Communications Manager
ICMEC Australia