Media Release: Churchill Trust calls on Crime Combatants

5 Dec 2013

It has been almost 40 years since Donald Mackay was assassinated for his resistance to organised crime in Australia, but The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust continues to carry on his legacy.

After Mackay’s assassination in 1977, a national appeal was organised, with the funds raised enabling a perpetual Churchill Fellowship to be awarded in the field of countering organised crime in his memory.

The $20,000 Donald Mackay Churchill Fellowship is now offered to those involved in law enforcement and related fields to study methods of investigating and bringing to light organised crime.

Applications have now opened for the 2014 Fellowship – coming at a time when organised crime in Australia is becoming increasingly complex.

In its 2013 report on Organised Crime in Australia*, The Australian Crime Commission (ACC) conservatively estimated organised crime to currently cost Australia A$15 billion annually.

In the past, cases of organised crime were typically associated with illegal commodities or activities, but today, Australians everywhere are being affected by organised crime on a daily basis, through investment scams, credit card theft and violence.

New types of crimes, including cyber based activities such as ‘hacktivism’ - the compromisation of computer systems - are also increasingly having an impact.

Dr Cassandra Cross, who received the Donald Mackay Churchill Fellowship in 2011, knows this well, having used her Fellowship to study methods for preventing and supporting victims of online fraud.

During her Fellowship, Dr Cross examined fraud prevention strategies and support services for victims of online fraud across the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada.

“Every day inboxes are being flooded with invitations to invest money in overseas schemes and notifications of overseas lottery wins and inheritances,” Dr Cross said.

“While these requests may seem outrageous, many believe the request to be true and respond by sending money or personal details. This can have devastating consequences, financially, emotionally and physically”.

Dr Cross, believes that although there is a growing recognition of the magnitude posed to Australians from online fraud, the equivalent awareness of one’s own vulnerability to online fraud is not apparent.

“Enforcement action is important, but greater success is likely to come in the area of prevention, which avoids victim losses in the first place,” she said.

“The opportunity to travel overseas on the Donald Mackay Churchill Fellowship and observe first hand international approaches to the prevention and support of online fraud victims has been a great honour.

“There is a lot of positive work happening in the fraud space, and many lessons which can be taken from these examples to improve the current situation in Australia.”

Applications are now open for the 2014 Churchill Fellowships until mid-February 2014, for travel between 1 September 2014 and 31 August 2015.

All Australian citizens aged over 18 are invited to apply. No prescribed qualifications are required and the subject of the project is limitless - provided a benefit to Australia is evident.

Further information and an application package can be obtained online from www.churchilltrust.com.au or via post by calling the Trust on 02 6247 8333.

*Information obtained from www.crimecommission.gov.au


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