House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013

Private Members' Business


8:45 pm

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The member for Forrest has probably been overwhelmed with compliments tonight, but it is a reflection on both sides of the House recognising and commending the member's efforts in this space. I had the opportunity to listen to the member for Forrest's contribution from my office before coming to the floor and, seeing all the work that she has done, I know this is not just a motion in word but in deed as well. I join with others in commending the member for Forrest in bringing this to the House.

As is evident from the contributions this evening, we all take the security of Australians seriously, particularly as it impacts on younger Australians. I was fortunate to serve for a brief period with the member for Forrest on the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety when it handed down its interim report in June 2011, titled High-wire act: cyber-safety and the young. It had about 32 recommendations to it.

Cybersafety remains an important area of personal protection for all Australians, and educating people is very important, as has been reflected on a number of times tonight. There is no doubt schools and early childhood education have a role to play in shaping protective behaviours long before cyberbullying becomes a problem. The government has made enormous commitments in the area of cybersafety across portfolios. As has been mentioned by my colleague the member for Moreton, there has been a $3 million grant to the Alannah and Madeline Foundation, and a national pilot of its eSmart cybersafety initiative has now been delivered to approximately 1,600 schools.

Parents are critical. They will form the front line in helping to keep young people safe online and in keeping lines of communication open, particularly on sensitive issues. Parents will be the key group in this area of education. There are positive signs worth reflecting on, including a 2010 parents survey commissioned by the government which found that one in two parents, or 46 per cent, feel that they are 'well informed' about cybersafety issues. What was interesting in the survey was that it found the majority of parents—84 per cent—had spoken to their children about the risks of being online, and 80 per cent had implemented preventative measures to minimise those risks. That is an encouraging start, but the findings demonstrate the need for further work.

The government has committed a total of $125.8 million on its cybersafety plans to combat online risks to children and help parents and educators protect children from inappropriate material. Under our plan the government has established a range of advisory groups to ensure world's best practice when it comes to protecting children online, including a Consultative Working Group on cybersafety and a teachers and parents advisory group on cybersafety.

I make special mention of the Youth Advisory Group on cybersafety, or YAG, as some like to call it, which provides students from all over the country a direct voice to the government on cybersafety issues. Nearly 3,000 students from 400 schools will participate in the 2013 program via online consultations and a cybersafety summit, including students from the electorate of Chifley. I am proud to say that students from Evans High School participated in the YAG, and I commend them for their efforts.

Additionally, and quite separate to this, I pay tribute to the Youth Advisory Group of Mount Druitt's headspace, which recently walked me through this issue and talked through some of the pressures that young people are facing from online bullying and—as has been mentioned tonight—the ever-present danger there. It is not just a matter of being at school; this is something that goes home and is almost like a 24/7 phenomenon. This is a reflection on the fact that social media has become an integral dimension of so many young people's lives and where they are most vulnerable. No longer are computers the sole domain of social media; this transfers onto platforms through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. That is why the government's Cybersafety Button has become an important tool, ensuring young people have 24/7 access to cybersafety resources and advice and can report inappropriate behaviour, including to the AFP. Since it was launched in 2010 it has been made available on nearly one million computers and mobile devices.

This demonstrates, too, that social networks need to be mindful of the danger and ever-vigilant. As much as there has been negative comments about social media sites like Facebook, having met last year with Facebook's Product Manager for Site Integrity and Trust Engineering, Jake Brill, it seems there are some encouraging signs. But we still have a lot of work to do and we need to keep the focus on this. Having a parliament debate is one way we can do this. Congratulations.


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