I am Paul Litherland the owner of Surf Online Safe. I was a WA Police Officer for 20 years working in a wide range of different areas. I regularly visited schools across WA conducting "Stranger Danger" talks and working with the Constable Care program. As well as my policing career, for the past 18 years I have been working exclusively with young males and females as a mentor and coach within the Western Australian Football League. I am currently a Senior Coach with the South Fremantle Football Club
From 2009 to 2014, I was working within the Technology Crime Investigation Unit, a section at that time that was internationally recognised as one of the leading technology crime divisions in the world. I was involved in criminal investigations including hacking, online sales fraud and romance scams, to cases involving international syndicates. I was also working specifically with children (and their families) who were either the victims of online crime, or the offenders themselves. I dealt personally with the victims of cyber bullying, grooming and predatory behaviour as well as the perpetrators themselves. I came to know all too well the heartbreak parents were going through, as well as how frustrated they were with how little care the online world seems to show our kids. I felt driven to make change.
I realised there were limited resources available on the subject of internet awareness. In particular, self-proclaimed 'Cyber Safety Experts', lacked real life knowledge and relevance as to what is happening in the online world and the true concerns parents and schools are having. More importantly, they lacked the knowledge of how social networking is being used by kids and what can be done to minimise risk, without impacting too heavily on their online world. During my time at Tech Crime I worked extremely hard in building my experience by working exclusively with teenagers and helping them understand the risks of the online world. I designed and conducted training packages for schools and other government organisations, but soon became frustrated at how poorly these packages were being delivered.
I therefore set about targeting schools in my local area offering presentations personally, based on my experience, knowledge and insight into the dangers of the online world and what our kids can do to protect themselves. Since 2009, I have focussed on all aspects of teenage computer use, social networking design as well as the psychological profiles of teenagers and the offenders that prey on them. Those attending my presentations were impressed with my content, subject knowledge and presentation style as well as the advice and solutions I offered. Before I knew it, other schools heard of what I was offering and I found myself presenting to many others around Perth.
I chose to leave the WA Police to pursue my dream of educating. I now present to over 430 schools across Australia, including some of our countries most prestigious colleges, as well as over 80 business and government organisations. In 2018, over 60 thousand Australian students had seen an SOS presentation. I am very proud to work with these communities and have built Surf Online Safe to be one of the foremost internet safety organisations in this country. I have worked with schools directly over the past 21 years both as a police officer and as an educator and have a great rapport with kids of all ages.
As the parent of a teenager, I can add that extra insight to my presentations as I am more than aware of the fear and apprehension parents have regarding the internet and the dangers that are out there. It is difficult to be a parent in this technological age and this helps me target my presentations more specifically to schools requirements. Having said that, it is also difficult to be a teenager in this age. So it is important to take a holistic approach to internet use to make users more aware of risk, rather than simply say "Don't do this" or "Don't do that". Together with my extensive history in law enforcement, I can assure you my presentations will have a very positive and inspiring impact on you and your kids.
I do not consider or call myself an expert! My ego is not that big! I am just someone who wants to make a difference and I believe I am. It is my ultimate goal to drive change here and overseas, to make the online world safer for all of us, especially our kids. My experience, knowledge and motivation will hopefully help me reach that goal and if I can help as many people as I can along the way, then I will continue to be proud of that.
Additional Information and Qualifications :
- 1994 - 2014 : Police Officer, Western Australia Police
- 2009 - 2014 : Police Officer, Technology Crime Investigation Unit
- 2003 - 2007 : Senior Lecturer - Western Australia Police Academy
- 2012 : A+ Certification, Computer Technology
- 2012 : Certification, X-Ways Computer Forensics
- 2011 : Diploma in Social Media Marketing (Social Networking)
- 2004 : Diploma in Public Speaking
- 2004 : Certificate IV - Training and Assessment
- 1998 : Official Commendation, Commissioner of Police, Western Australia Police - (Preservation of Life)
- 1999 : Official Commendation, Commissioner of Police, Western Australia Police - (Dilligence and Dedication to Duty)
- 1999 : Nominee - Police Officer of the Year, Western Australia Police
- 2005 : Recipient - Western Australia Police Service Medal
- 2007 : Official Commendation, Commissioner of Police, Western Australia Police - (Community Service)
- 2007 : Nominee - Police Officer of the Year (Finalist), Western Australia Police
- 2007 : Recipient - Pride of Australia Medal
- 2010 : Recipient - Western Australia Police Service Medal
- 2016 : Recipient - National Police Service Medal
- 2017 : Recipient - Police Star Medal
- 2018 : Nominee - Australian of the Year