The Coalition’s Online Safety Working Group has found that many parents and schools feel ill-equipped to deal with the challenge of protecting children from online dangers.
It is estimated that 90 per cent of Australian high school students have a Facebook account. Parents, teachers and schools are concerned about the dangers of cyber-bullying, predatory behaviour and children accessing age-inappropriate content.
Australian children are immersed in the internet. While the internet delivers profound benefits, it also presents dangers. Facebook, networking games, smart phones and iPads are all part of the typical daily life of today’s children. This has become a new area of responsibility for parents, many of whom feel ill-equipped to respond to a world they know little of.
In releasing a Discussion Paper on Online Safety for Children, the Coalition is seeking input from parents, schools, young people and industry about ways we can help children to safely participate in the online world. Issues raised in the Discussion Paper include:
- Establishing a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner to take a national leadership role in online safety for children.
- Implementing Rapid Removal protocols with large social media outlets for material that is targeted at and likely to cause harm to an Australian child, through a co-operative regulatory scheme.
- Assisting parents and carers make informed decisions about devices such as smartphones and tablets, by establishing recognised branding indicating their suitability for younger children and teenagers.
- Providing greater support for schools through a stronger online safety component within the National Safe Schools Framework, and assisting with online safety resources for schools.
- Undertaking a national public education campaign to highlight online safety issues.
Improving online safety will only come through the combined work of parents, carers, schools, police, governments and technology providers. All of us have a part to play in ensuring this generation of Australian children and young people are as safe as possible from online dangers.
The government’s pre-occupation with its abandoned internet filter has meant that insufficient work has been undertaken to assist parents, carers and schools.
Since the Online Safety Working Group was established in January, it has undertaken roundtables and consultations across Australia and met with parents, teachers, young people and industry.
The Coalition’s Discussion Paper comprehensively details the challenges facing Australian parents, carers and teachers. I invite education, technology, cyber-safety leaders, as well as parents, carers and young people to make submissions on the Discussion Paper.
Our policy will focus on providing greater support for teachers and parents in their work in guiding young children to adulthood, including helping them to become responsible digital citizens. We do not seek to limit the existing free expression or interaction of adults, rather we seek to protect children from dangerous material and harmful behaviour that can damage them.
The process will contribute to the formation of the Coalition’s policy on Online Safety for Children which will be released prior to the next election.
Click here to download and read a copy of The Coalition's Discussion Paper on Enhancing Online Safety for Children.