We need a national strategic framework on digital safety education

SYDNEY, Wednesday 12 September 2018:  National children’s charities, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Bravehearts, UNICEF Australia, The Daniel Morecombe Foundation and youth organisation Project Rockit are calling on Australian governments, the industry and community organisations to develop and adopt a national framework on digital safety.

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation’s CEO, Lesley Podesta, said the time for a coordinated plan to ensure all Australian children and families receive education on online safety is now. 

“In some ways, Australia is a global leader in promoting digital safety. While there has been considerable work done around online safety education, it is fragmented rather than comprehensive. It often focusses on only one or a small number of broader online safety issues, such as privacy, cyber bullying or online etiquette,” Ms Podesta said.

“Significant population groups are under-served by our current arrangements, particularly children and young people in remote and regional communities,” she said. 

“Together we work around Australia to build online respect and safety. We work with  families and young people who  report on the very significant variations of existing online safety resources in different states and territories, and across different schools. With almost 90 per cent of teenagers using social media every day, this situation just isn’t good enough in 2018 reported Ms Brennan of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. 

“We believe that children and young people need a national and consistent approach to be developed for online safety education, with input and buy in from industry, community organisations and government. This commitment to our children’s safety should be bipartisan,” said Tony Stuart, CEO of UNICEF Australia . 

Ms James of Bravehearts said the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse highlighted the need to invest in a national approach to online safety education. 

“This is not about ignoring the great efforts of many tech companies and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.  It is about developing a coordinated plan. Our children have the right to grow up in a safe environment, to be confident and respectful online and to be equipped to keep themselves safe. Schools, community organisations, workplaces, libraries and the online industry all play vital roles but at the moment we don’t have an agreed national planand too many of our children and young people are missing out.” 

For more information: contact Deb Morris at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation on 
0450 784 847 or at deb.morris@amf.org.au