Wednesday, 6 September 2017
Questions without Notice
Office of the eSafety Commissioner
My question is to the Minister for Communications, Senator Fifield. Can the minister update the Senate on the work of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and on how the Turnbull government is helping Australians to stay safe online?
Thank you, Senator Hume. I think all colleagues would be aware of the establishment of the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner in 2015. It's something that was well received across the chamber. Ms Julie Inman-Grant commenced in the role in January of this year, and I think all colleagues who have had dealings with her would recognise the great work she's doing. She has a wealth of experience in online safety policy at both the global and the local level. She has played pivotal roles in the development of the first Online Safety Summit for Children in 1996 and in helping shape the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015. I'm sure that all colleagues will also agree that the safety and wellbeing of kids online is important.
On Sunday I was very pleased to launch National eSmart Week, which is a powerful and forward-thinking initiative set up by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. National eSmart Week is about the promotion of tools, solutions and ideas to help increase digital literacy and reduce cyberbullying throughout Australia. Some 2,300 schools are participating in eSmart Schools, more than 70 per cent of Australia's 1,500 libraries are participating in eSmart Libraries, and it's also great to note that more than 230,000 kids have registered for an eSmart Digital Licence, which is a terrific thing. It is also important to recognise that given the increase in the scope of the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner this government has changed its mandate and retitled it the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to recognise the breadth of their important work.
In 2015, the Prime Minister announced a $100 million package of measures to provide a safety net for those people, particularly women and children, at high risk of experiencing domestic violence. Senator Cash, the Minister for Women, has been a champion of this cause and initiative. Under this program, $2.1 million in funding has been provided to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to develop a resource package of online measures for those at high risk of experiencing domestic violence, and the eSafetyWomen site was launched in 2016. Also, in 2016, the government announced additional support of $10 million to support victims of non-consensual sharing of intimate images, under the $100 million allocated for the third action plan of theNational plan to reduce violence against women and their children 2010-2022.
Colleagues will be aware that older Australians are online in increasing numbers. They are enjoying connecting with family and friends but not all of them have the skills and they don't necessarily feel confident to take those first steps, which is why the government has announced an investment of $50 million to improve the digital literacy of senior Australians and to improve their safety online.
Under this commitment, $16.9 million will be provided to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner over four years to develop and maintain an online digital portal for older Australians, and Minister Porter, in the other place, is actively involved with this as well. It's envisaged that the portal will be launched later this year. I'm sure all colleagues will be able to join together in recognising the good and important work that the eSafety Commissioner does.