Sydney (Press Release): The Liberal and Nationals Government is taking action to support parents and keep Australian children safe online with a new $17 million online safety package.
It will include new resources for parents and carers, an online safety research program and the development of an Online Safety Charter for digital platforms.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government’s top priority was keeping Australians safe.
“We must all work together to ensure the safety of our youngest Australians online, including parents, social media companies and the community,” the Prime Minister said.
“Nothing can be more important than protecting our children and in many cases this means defending them from dangers in the online environment.”
The Keeping our Children Safe Online package includes an education campaign for all parents and new educational resources for parents and carers of children under 5 years old, in recognition of the fact that it is never too early to start teaching good online safety habits.
It will raise awareness of the resources available to parents to protect their children online, particularly the work of the eSafety Commissioner, and develop new resources for parents, childcare centres and community groups to support a safe online environment and positive cybersafe behaviour in young children.
An Online Safety Charter will be developed in consultation with parents, stakeholders and social media and digital platform companies which will outline the Government’s expectations for industry in relation to protecting children online.
The Charter will have an explicit focus on children, recognising they need special protection. A draft will be developed over the summer and the final Charter will be agreed in 2019.
And a new research program will be rolled out to underpin initiatives to keep kids and other vulnerable Australians safe online.
Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield said the Government expected digital platforms to do their bit to keep Australian kids safe.
“Our new Online Safety Charter will clearly set out our expectations of industry. We will consult with the sector, stakeholders and most importantly parents over coming months to develop the Charter,” Minister Fifield said.
“Businesses who interact with children in the real world have to meet high standards of safety and digital businesses should be treated no differently.”
“This generation is the first to be immersed in the digital world. There is much we don’t know, and as technology evolves we are funding more research to improve online safety,” Minister Fifield said
“This generation of children are the first to grow up immersed in the online world and as digital technology rapidly evolves it is important that we have the best information about the impact on our children and ways to ensure that their experience is a positive and safe one,”
Minister for Education Dan Tehan said parents wanted to be in charge of what their children experience online.
“We know how difficult it can be and how it can feel like it is too hard to take control but parents should be reassured that it is never too early – or too late – to start teaching responsible cybersafe behaviour,” Minister Tehan said.
“That’s why we are developing a new awareness campaign and funding new resources to help parents make sensible and safe choices about their kids’ technology use from their very first exposure.”
These latest measures will be rolled out in early 2019 and are part of the Government’s ongoing commitment of more than $100 million over the next four years to improving online safety.
The eSafety Commissioner was set up by the Liberal National Government to provide support to families and educators and help victims of online safety. For advice on how to keep your children safe online visit www.esafety.gov.au.
These measures complement the Government’s other initiatives to combat bullying and cyberbullying including the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. Schools across Australia are encouraged to register to take part in the National Day of Action on Friday 15 March 2019 by visiting www.bullyingnoway.gov.au
The Government has received the independent review of the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 and the Online Content Scheme, conducted by Ms Lynelle Briggs AO and is considering the recommendations.