Many parents and schools do not feel confident in dealing with the challenge of protecting children from online dangers, according to the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.
A discussion paper released today prepared by the Coalition’s Online Safety Working Group says that 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,” said Mr Abbott.
“While the internet delivers profound benefits, it also presents dangers.”
Mr Abbott said that with Facebook, games, smart phones and iPads being typical in the daily life of children, it’s a new area for parents to be responsible but it’s an area of which they know little.
The Coalition’s discussion paper is seeking input from parents, schools, young people and industry about ways in which children can participate safely in the online world. Issues raised in the 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 to 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,” Mr Abbott said.
“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.”
Mr Abbott invited education, technology, cyber-safety leaders, parents, carers and young people to read and comment on the discussion paper which can be found here.
The Federal Government has introduced a series of measures to educate parents, teachers and children about bullying behaviour including cyber-bullying.
Late today, the Minister for Broadband and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, welcomed the Coalition's policy and discussion paper.
“The Government has invested $128 million in Cybersafety initiatives [since 2008], increasing funding for cybersafety education, awareness-raising activities, and law enforcement.”