Addressing local cyber bullying and online safety

Monday 20 April 2015:

As a father and the local Federal Member, I am deeply concerned about the increased threat to our children of communicating online as the internet expands and develops.

Research has found that over a 12 month period, one in five Australian children aged eight to seventeen are exposed to cyberbullying. Despite this risk, online social engagement is a huge part of many young people’s lives.

It is heartbreaking to read stories like that of Jessica Cleland, whose death was linked to cyber bullying.

In response, the Abbott Government is stepping up its campaign to reduce cyber bullying and increase online safety, with local educational sessions and the appointment of a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner.

This Wednesday, students and parents from Langwarrin Primary School and Elisabeth Murdoch College will learn how to be safe online and manage bullying.

The Federal Member for Forrest and member of the Joint Select Committee for Cyber-Safety Nola Marino will run the sessions with me at my request. Ms Marino is a passionate advocate on this issue and has been running sessions for schools around the country.

During the sessions attendees will learn about risks associated with social media like Facebook and Twitter, cyber bullying, a child’s digital footprint, what it means to be groomed online and security weaknesses associated with mobile phones.

The sessions follow the Abbott Government appointing cyber safety expert Alastair MacGibbon to the new role of Children’s e-Safety Commissioner to help combat cyberbullying.

The appointment delivers on an election commitment and will also mean an effective complaints system, backed by legislation, to get harmful material down fast from large social media sites.

From 1 July, Mr MacGibbon will work with industry, child welfare organisations, law enforcement agencies and Australian children and parents to protect children from the growing problem of cyberbullying.

The Government has committed $10 million in 2014/2015 to the Enhancing Online Safety for Children policy. This includes $7.5 million to assist schools to access accredited online safety programmes; $2.4 million to establish and operate the Office of the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner; and $100,000 to support Australian-based research and information campaigns on online safety.

To arrange a photo opportunity with students and parents at one of the cyber safety sessions on Wednesday, please contact Kristie Lavery on 0466 305 206.