Raised in a devoutly Christian family, Tony Kirwan had a sheltered upbringing.
Not once did he see his parents walk into a pub or even let alcohol pass through their lips. It was, in his words, “a wrapped-in-cotton-wool sort of life”.
The past 16 years, though, couldn’t be more different for the former electrician.
The Queensland man has devoted his time to trawling dark, seedy brothels in south east Asia on a mission to liberate and rehabilitate as many underage sex trafficking victims as he and his organisation, Destiny Rescue, can manage.
UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 1.2 million children lured into the sex trade each year, and up to 100,000 of those are in the Philippines alone.
It’s there that SBS current affairs program, Dateline, embedded with Kirwan as he gathered evidence of child exploitation to deliver to under-resourced local police. Joining Kirwan, journalist Amos Roberts posed as a paedophile in an effort to root out victims and abusers.
"I don't think I anticipated quite how icky and how grim it would feel going out with those guys, given what they were trying to do - to find under-age girls who were doing sex work," Roberts told Mamamia. "When you're in a brothel or you're in a bar and they're asking you if you fancy anyone, if they can bring you a girl... I'm like, 'Oh no, I'm sorry. Not right now. I'm a bit shy.'"
Though Kirwan and his colleagues perform this baiting charade regularly, for Roberts the level of discomfort at even pretending to live in that skin was intense.
"I mean, people are out there thinking that you are what you're not," he said. "People are making assumptions about you, thinking that you're a paedophile. It is just a horrible thing. Horrible for them as well to be confronted with it."
In the course of filming in Manila, a Swiss backpacker began talking to him and Kirwan on the sidewalk outside a local karaoke bar - a bar fronted by a group of women offering massages. He was looking for conversation, for company with whom he could share a drink inside. But dedicated to his role, to his mission, Kirwan replied, "We’re looking for girls a bit younger than this. Gettin' fussy in me old age.”