Chapter 19 Conclusions
Most users of technology find their experiences in the online
environment are useful, pleasurable and trouble-free. Technology is now so
central and so valuable that our lives would be incomprehensible without it.
Although there have been problems and even tragedies for some users, it would
be unrealistic not to acknowledge these facts about use by the majority.
While it is clear that existing cyber-safety programs are very useful,
their range and variety can cause difficulties for those who are not confident
in the online environment. A cross jurisdiction, coherent approach has been
A national coordinated approach is essential. There are many
initiatives and sources of information available from a large variety of bodies
including universities, all three levels of government – local, state and
federal, schools and education departments, and not for profit associations. It
is becoming overwhelming for parents, teachers, children and other users to
navigate all the information and advice, and to find applicable and practical
information quickly when necessary.
One of the issues for young people seeking assistance is that they have
to determine which organisation to contact. A central point of contact would be
beneficial. The Alannah and Madeline
Foundation commented that:
We, as a foundation, would be approached weekly by someone
with a new whizzbang resource that is going to solve cybersafety, whether it is
targeted at a parent or a child. With our eSmart project, we are triaging those
and pointing to the ones that we know are evidence based. There does need to be
a sorting mechanism and there needs to be an awareness of what is already out
there so we do not duplicate. Duplication is a huge problem.
Current programs to reduce online risks are developed by many organisations:
particularly the educational and commercial sectors, and the information and technology
industry. It is clear that these risks are not being fully addressed,
especially for young people.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner stated:
Cyber safety is a national problem and an important way to
minimise cyber safety risks is to adopt a coordinated approach across
portfolios and jurisdictions. Cross-portfolio co-operation enables agencies specialised
in particular areas to collectively consider different aspects of information
communications technology initiatives and their associated privacy and security
risks, and to develop an appropriate responses. Ensuring that various education
and awareness programs are complementary and co-ordinated is key to promoting
an empowered community.
The Association of Independent Schools of South Australia suggested:
exploration of the formation of a national an advisory group
to guide policy development and keeping a watching brief on the ‘bigger
picture’, particularly in regards to international research and policies.
The Australian Direct Marketing Association supported the establishment
of a single office:
an Office of Online Security be established to provide
industry, consumers and all relevant stakeholders with a single point of
contact for this vitally important issue.
The Safer Internet Group endorsed this view:
a more coordinated approach across the departments and across
the programs [should] be undertaken. Within the Department of Broadband,
Communications and the Digital Economy and also the Attorney-General’s
Department there could be some better collaboration across cybersecurity and
The Independent Education Union of Australia believed that the range of
programs available needs to be brought together, identify what is best practice
and decide how and where schools can be involved.
The Australian Institute of Criminology believed that there is too much
material already available, and that this should be coordinated into
information sites managed by a central agency.
The United Kingdom Council of Child Internet Safety is an example of
such a body, as it:
brings together over 140 organisations and individuals to
help children and young people stay safe on the internet. It is made up of
companies, government departments and agencies, law enforcement, charities,
parent groups, academic experts and others.
The United Kingdom’s Home Office Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet
has developed a series of good practice guides:
These documents were intended primarily as a guide to
commercial or other organisations, or individuals, providing online services or
considering doing so in the future, but as public documents, are also of
interest to internet users. The guidance covered includes advice on chat,
search, moderation and social networking services. ACMA submitted a statement
of support for the Good Practice Guidance for the Providers of Social
Networking and Other User Interactive Services 2007, as well as participating
in the drafting of the guidance. Best practice documents have also been drafted
and promoted by industry groups, such as the UK code of practice for the
self-regulation of new forms of content on mobiles and the European Commission
including Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU20 and the European
Framework on Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children.
Singtel Optus also raised the point that there is a need for greater
collaboration to ensure resources are ‘pooled and used effectively, and to
ensure that there is a consistent message’. Childnet International
It is key to make sure that all actors in this space –
parents, schools, children and young people but also law enforcement, industry
and governments are playing their part in making the internet a great and safe
place and are supported in this.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has a range of
regulatory and educational roles. Its personnel are knowledgeable and
experienced, and the resources they provide are highly valued. It is in an
ideal position to take on a greater role in coordinating cyber-safety in the
online environment. As a result of its research, it has a range of programs to
increase cyber-safety and educate users of technology. For example , the Cyber
Safety Help Button was developed in response to advice from the Youth Advisory
Group, set up to provide a forum where young Australians can talk directly to
government about cyber-safety.
The Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety exists to advise the
Government on priorities for action by government and industry about
cyber-safety, especially for Australian children. It includes representatives
from industry, community organisations and Australian Government agencies. It
would be, therefore, the appropriate body to recommend an appropriate, revised
role and structure for ACMA.
The importance of clear definitions was emphasised throughout the Inquiry.
One of the first tasks for a centralised body should be to develop appropriate
definitions, especially for cyber-bullying:
The most frustrating thing about Australia in the way that we
do things is this lack of consistency...We have different laws right across the
country. We cannot agree on the definitions of what a child is. We cannot agree
on an age of consent, and here we are talking about cybersafety and all of
these other elements. I think trying to get people around the same table from
the states and territories is notoriously hard and trying to get them to agree
on anything is even harder. Starting to work collaboratively at the top level,
by taking on an issue, particularly as this is a new one relatively speaking,
might help us as a nation to pull together and understand that we are all
dealing with the same people. This lack of consistency and the unwillingness
for the states to engage and do the same things everywhere is very frustrating
from the child protection point of view. I am happy to say that the framework
appears to be tearing that down a little bit, which is great.
A statement from young people from the Australian/European Training
School on cyberbullying included the following list of priorities:
- A clear definition of
what cyberbullying is, including the effects and consequences;
- Clarity around policy
i.e. what inappropriate behaviours we are talking about;
- Education and education
for parents and peers in cyber-safety; how to use Facebook, e.g. privacy settings
and what they really mean;
- Adults to acknowledge
the importance of how children cope with cyber-bullying;
- Research in every
country to figure out the nature of the problem which feeds into addressing the
- Increase communication
between students and teachers;
- To promote the notion
that it is acceptable to talk about experiences of cyber-bullying to help those
who are victimized in the future; and
- Researchers to identify strategies for parents to give
support/advice to their children.
The Australian Toy Association would like to see current information on
cyber-safety made available in a central portal:
A range of government and
nongovernment online material was released and promoted. These were seemingly
unrelated to one another. There needs to be more co-ordination.
National cyber-safety education program
A national cyber-safety education program, devised and implemented with
the cooperation of all Australian jurisdictions is central to addressing risks
in the online environment.
Schools are the best places to do this, however, any programs that are
adopted must be more than a series of ‘bolted-on’ classes added to already
crowded curricula. Continuing to provide ad hoc classes on cyber-safety will
not address or resolve effectively cyber-safety problems experienced by young
Cyber-safety is essential for all Australian students and therefore needs
to be taught within curriculums. As already noted, the Australian Curriculum,
Assessment and Reporting Authority is developing the Australian Curriculum. One
of its seven general capabilities is competence in information and
communications technology. The opportunity exists, therefore, to recognise and
fulfil the need for a national approach to cyber-safety education at schools,
one that is embedded in curricula.
The South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools supported the
revised National Safe School Framework as a ‘well accepted national framework
to develop specific school initiatives focused around student safety,
addressing bullying and harassment and positive student behaviours’.
To be effective and increase cyber-safety for young people in
particular, such a national program must be:
broad and deep in its concepts and approach;
well funded; and
Above all, an effective program must be the fruit of a cooperative
approach so that it can be introduced across all Australian jurisdictions. All
users, regardless of their locations, face similar online risks. Without a
cooperative approach, many young Australians will continue to face risks in the
online environment with inadequate guidance on how to deal with them.
Netbox Blue outlined the benefits of this approach:
- Schools will embrace
the program as it offers them reassurance of a centrally provided and
thoroughly researched set of Standards that offer them a Certification that
they will be proud of;
- Schools will be able
to spend less time pursuing individual research into how to solve the same
issues that face every school in the country;
- Schools can be
advised as to where the boundaries of their “liabilities” are with relation to
their duty of care (specifically relating to laptop provision and what their
responsibilities are in managing these outside of the school’s network);
- Less money will be
wasted on a “trial and error” approach of individual States and school bodies /
schools tackling the issue in different ways;
- Standards can be set
to ensure that the rush of advisors, consultants and technology suppliers meet
a set of pre-determined standards and deliver advice or solutions within the
framework that may be agreed;
technology suppliers should be required to demonstrate referenceable
capabilities in tackling Cyber Safety for children (see further recommendations
- Federal Government
can provide common frameworks and support to State based and Independent and
Catholic school bodies. This can include legal frameworks and communications
tools to ensure adherence to the standards.
Symantec Corporation emphasised that schools need ‘qualified,
independent advice and a blueprint to show best to address the issues’.
The importance of appropriate support in schools was discussed by the
Australian Psychological Society:
teachers are less confident in addressing cyber-bullying
compared to other forms of bullying, and that “young people reported losing
faith in reporting bullying behaviour because some teachers and other adults
are not taking action or not recognising covert bullying as bullying when they
see it or when it is reported, especially via cyber means”. Staff training,
positive classroom management, resources and support for development of
appropriate strategies, principal commitment, and reconciliation/restorative
techniques are all important as part of teacher engagement in cyber-safety.
Schools could be encouraged to more easily adopt available solutions if
there was a central body to:
Provide advice and online collateral, papers, policies and best
practice examples to schools;
Research and establish a clear set of standards to be achieved by
school to demonstrated their fulfilment of their duty of care and to provide
reassurance to all stakeholders that the school is ‘certified’;
Establish a national certification standard for schools (K to
Year 12) across all sectors (Independent, Catholic and Public) in providing a cyber-safe
environment for students;
Promote the program to all schools and encourage them via grants
or other appropriate incentives to benefit from adherence to the Standards;
Then promote the program to all other stakeholders to provide
reassurance that a National Standard is in place and that their school has
(ideally) met the criteria; and
Establish an ongoing review of the Standards and an annual
re-accreditation to ensure ongoing compliance and communications to each new student
Effectiveness of education programs
Research into bullying and cyber-bullying appears to show that, although
it is prevalent, it is not the behavioural ‘norm’. Promoting socially
acceptable behaviour is a more effective strategy than using scare tactics.
presentations about cybersafety are quite scary and are very
didactic, saying: ‘This is what you shouldn’t do; these are the risks.’ It
scares the parents and it scares the children. Engage parents about all the
positive, wonderful things that their children can learn from technology but
tell them about the normal things that you should do to keep yourself safe. It
is really important how you engage children and parents.
It was argued that there has been too much of a focus on technology and
not enough on the decisions being made to enhance lives. A study in 2007
indicated that cyber-bullying is a behavioural problem, not a technological
problem. Therefore, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and other participants support
the view that responses are best focused on behavioural change in the school
Inspire Foundation commented that:
peer education and discussion oriented approach was
particularly effective in engaging young people during the workshops. During
formative/consultative discussions, young people expressed feeling that
existing Internet Safety programs and resources were unrealistic, boring or
‘talked down’ to young people about risks that they were already very aware of
... One young person remarked that hearing their peers challenge attitudes and
beliefs about online risks was much more credible than hearing about it from
adults who she exclaimed ‘don’t know anything about what we do on the net’. The
role of peer education in addressing cyber safety is therefore important in
ensuring the measures advocated appear credible and reasonable in light of the
integral role technology plays in young people’s lives.
Ms Robyn Treyvaud made the point that, in a web search for teacher
resources for cyber-safety, there will be 3 million hits which makes it
difficult to determine the most appropriate resource.
The Stride Foundation added that:
We need to work with schools, young people, parents and
industry. We need to get to everyone and we need to pull that together. We need
to make it simple. Sometimes, particularly dealing with parents and teachers,
it has become very complicated. If we create a simple message that everyone is
following and endorsing then I really believe that we will get cultural change
and we will reduce the incidence of the harmful effects of cybersafety in our
schools and on young people.
The Association of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools highlighted
the need for ‘relevant authorities to develop high quality online updated
educational resources for parents and teachers to access, so to keep pace with
the ongoing rapid changes that are part of the online environment’.
Ms Candice Jansz commented:
The ability to access detailed resources on cyber-safety and
any related Australian helplines or regulatory bodies via one comprehensive
government-hosted online portal is strongly advisable, particularly for
individuals who are not familiar with the internet and online social networks.
A simple, well publicised web address, (i.e. Cybersafety.gov.au) would ensure
it is easily remembered, and as such is accessed without difficulty when
Dr Helen McGrath suggested that:
it would be really good for the institutes of teaching, which
set the criteria and standards for the teaching profession, to get together to
discuss at some point whether or not cybersafety should be a mandatory aspect
of preservice education.
The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study suggested the establishment
of an Australian Council for Bullying Prevention, reporting to the Prime
Minister and chaired by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace
Relations, to lead the review of the National Safe Schools Framework and the
concurrent development of a strategy. Such a council could facilitate a ‘sustainable
joined-up-Government structures (including education, health, community
development, and justice) and approaches to deliver key reforms’. It is more appropriate
to utilise and existing governmental structure rather than to add another body
to seek to improve cyber-safety in the online environment. In part, the
proposal to create an online ombudsman was not supported for this reason, and because
of concerns about jurisdictional issues.
Roar Educate made the point that there needed to be a central repository
of resources for teachers to address the current ‘turf warfare’.
That the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the
Digital Economy facilitate a cooperative approach to ensure all material
provided on cyber-safety programs is accessible through a central portal, and
that a national education campaign be designed and implemented to publicise
this portal, especially to young people.
The need for more research-based evidence to improve cyber-safety for
young people was repeated constantly during this Inquiry. It is ‘imperative’
that research be undertaken to provide a credible base for future policy,
derived from Australian evidence rather than relying on international studies.
There was ‘a central role’ for Government support for such research.
The Queensland Catholic Education Commission also considered that ‘some sort of
a clearing house would be very useful’. The Australian Institute
of Criminology argued that:
there is a continuing need for national prevalence level
research in Australia to determine the scope of the problem and, in particular,
the impact on individual victims. Often the research does not really
investigate in a qualitative way the experience of the victims.
The Australian University Cyberbullying Research Alliance suggested the:
establishment of a national and international university
cyberbullying research alliance for informing policy and sustainability in
A concern was raised about current cyber-safety programs and initiatives,
but that it is not clear how many of them have been appropriately evaluated and
accredited. Dr Julian Dooley believed
that many existing cyber-safety programs are based on uncertain research.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) added that:
a number of issues that go to overall effectiveness. The fact
is that many of the programs that do exist were developed quite quickly and
although coordination and consultation was a consideration at the time there is
perhaps more that can be done in relation to those aspects, and this should
include scanning for best and better practices that would enable optimal use of
finite resources and commitment. The AFP questions whether there is a sound
base for determining longitudinal effectiveness and evidence of actual
behavioural change. The AFP questions whether governments, law enforcement
agencies and other stakeholder organisations and communities generally are
making the necessary linkages between cybersafety and the wider suite of
antisocial behaviours that confront society.
Yahoo!7 also saw research as vital and a number one priority:
We have a paucity of research in Australia about what risks
Australian children are facing online and what measures Australian parents are
taking to help manage those risks today. I actually believe that that research
should be the foundation upon which an education program is developed, and I
support Mr Scroggie’s call for a mandatory curriculum around cybersafety. I
think that that research would also inform the technological tools that are
available and that are developed in response to that research.
Internode also called for some perspective:
There is really no sense of perspective on the challenge: a
whole pile of threats are lumped on one end of the table with an equal rating
or weighting and a whole pile of potential solutions are dumped on the other
end of the table with no real assessment of whether they are going to be
It is inadequate only to address cyber-bullying, as any initiative must
attack the overall issue of cyber-safety. To be effective, there must be
global, long term, researched, funded national cyber-safety program, following
from appropriate research. beyondblue suggested that research is needed to
identify effective intervention strategies in relation to prevention and raising
of awareness. The Australian Secondary
Principals’ Association commented:
There is currently an absence of systemic and ongoing survey
data from this context, showing trends, successfulness of intervention
programs, victim restoration and perpetrator rehabilitation. A shift in
approach is needed to uncover the size and dimensions of the problem and how it
changes over time. Such research will inform and direct prevention strategies.
The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study also called for
the facilitation of:
sustainable longitudinal research to investigate the
developmental trajectory, causes, protective factors, social and economic
costs, societal and cultural influences, and identify the windows of
opportunity for bullying prevention and intervention.
The Australian University Cyberbullying Research Alliance supported the
longitudinal, multi-disciplinary, cross cultural research
into cyberbullying and cyber-safety practices be initiated and be ongoing to
register changes in nature and prevalence across time, technological
environments and location
The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study supported:
applied intervention research to determine the impact of
promising strategies to reduce bullying, including cyber bullying, that protect
and support those involved, promote healthy relationships, reduce perpetration
of bullying, and change the circumstances and conditions (individual,
relationship, society, structural) that give rise to bullying.
Further, beyondblue emphasised that there needs to be a system to:
Develop, promote and share “what works” protective mechanisms
and information for young people in easy to understand language and relevant
mediums broad based and free to access, including through IT / social media
i.e. via facebook, twitter, YouTube.
Sexting is another area where further research is needed to understand
motives behind this behaviour, and to develop effective intervention strategies
to ensure that young people are aware of the potential legal sanctions.
BoysTown raised the issue of research needed in relation to the lack of
knowledge about the extent to which young people are targeted because of their
religious or cultural backgrounds;
how do Indigenous children and young people use this
technology? We know they do use that; we know they use that for traditional
purposes and cultural purposes. We want to look at the whole issue around
help-seeking by Indigenous young people and how they use technology to do that.
Again, it is an area that has not been studied much in Australia.
These submission have highlight a broad range of research areas
requiring further work, Further, the Australian Secondary Principals’
Association called for a national centre for cybersafety:
there needs to be something where all this research is
brought together. At the moment, for us in schools, when we want to teach
students about cybersafety, we go to our local state department—state
jurisdiction—or we go searching on the net ourselves or researching. For
teachers that is very time consuming, and we find it very frustrating. If there
was a one-stop shop, you might want to call it, for us to be able to go to
where the research has been done, the data has been collated, there have been
educational people involved in developing programs and lessons and things like
that, that teachers could download and use as an integrated part of their
curriculum that would be an enormous benefit for teachers, because we just
simply do not have time.
The role of the media
It has been suggested that some cyber-safety issues have been created
and sustained by the media. The consequences of ignorance or lapses of security
online can be devastating, and therefore newsworthy. In some cases, they can
include loss of life, with all the tragedy that this means and the heartbreak
that it causes to those close to victims.
Roar Educate believed that if bullying is still a problem, it is hardly
surprising that cyber-bullying is an issue, but asserts that bullying of this
kind is at least partly media-driven. Cyber-bullying is one of
the risks in the online environment that has received considerable publicity.
Ms Candice Jansz also referred to a ‘most prominently, extensive and
pervasive media coverage concentrating solely on the negative effects of the
internet as a whole, and more recently, online social networks in particular.’
The Youth Affairs Council of South Australia commented that:
YACSA is also concerned with the often-hysterical tone taken by the media when
reporting on cyber-safety
issues. Such reporting can perpetuate the stereotype that young people are
passive victims in the online environment, whereas anecdotal evidence suggests
many young people are more technologically literate than their parents and
One young person expressed the view that:
i believe cyber safety is getting worse when talked about it.
Do you think it could stop being talked about on the news and advertised.
Please many regards to make health and safety at ease. To stop this talk and
make the world have better uses then cyber bullying and health and safety.
The approach taken by media outlets can significantly affect the impact
of these events on public attitudes and it is important that a knowledgeable
and responsible approach is taken. An approach that may assist young people
would be to advertise ACMA’s Cybersmart website during news items
relevant to cyber-safety, to enable young people experiencing difficulties to
seek for the assistance they need. The Youth Affairs Council of South Australia
suggested that while:
it is difficult to say that there is scope for working with
‘the media’, but there is certainly scope to work with sympathetic media
organisations to try to put across a view about these sorts of issues that is
not hysterical and overly dramatic.
Development of a kit informing media outlets of cyber-safety risks and
general issues would provide authoritative information and, perhaps, go some
way to reducing sensational reporting.
When cyber-safety stories are shown on television, it would be useful if
a ribbon was added displaying the web address for the central portal containing
information on cybersafety.
Media advertising campaign
Dr Helen McGrath suggested a campaign similar to the Quit anti-smoking
campaign to reach parents/carers about cyber-safety.
ninemsn suggested a campaign similar to ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ on the importance
of parental engagement with this issue.
The slip slap slop campaign was not saying that the sun is
bad; slip slap slop was saying, ‘When you are in the sun, you need to do this
too.’ It was a positive message. That, I think, is what the slip slap slop
argument was: trying to reach at either level—parents or children—and spread a
positive message in a catchy way for the target group.
The Australian Secondary Principals’ Association also supported:
a major public campaign like we saw around some of the major
public campaigns that we have had from the national government around things to
do with sun safety and bits and pieces like that, would be of significant
benefit in this.
The ACT Council of P&C Associations recommended that:
the government introduces
effective advertisement that increases awareness among children of online
risks. Parents have advised Council that they would like to see advertising
used in a similar fashion as the current drink responsibly and speeding ads on
television. In addition, schools and the government should use case studies to
effectively illustrate what can happen if a young person does not effectively
protect themselves online.
The NSW Primary Principals’ Association stated that the Australian Government:
needs to address current cyber-safety threats through the
media to ensure all citizens are informed about the dangers. Citizens also need
to be made aware of the punishments associated with committing such offences.
BraveHearts also called for a national television and radio campaign to
raise awareness of Internet risks because there are now 45 percent of children
accessing the Internet outside their homes.
We are confident that through quick infomercials, aimed at
kids and adults, accurate and useful information delivered in a simple, easy to
understand, engaging and informative way will work.
BraveHearts drew a parallel with Mr John Schluter’s environmental
minutes, explaining that:
where you get these great bits of information and this tiny
little window that is 30 seconds or so where you go, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that.’
If we could start feeding the general community little bits of information,
just bite-sized chunks that they can consume without exposing how little they
know, then we could start to empower both the parents and the kids, the general
community, about an issue that they can discuss. I could see that absolutely
starting a discussion around the lounge room between the parents and children
saying, ‘I didn’t know that. Did you know that?’
The Committee has already recommended the establishment of a central
portal on which a range of cyber-safety material should be displayed. Once this
is established, it will be a reference point, not least in media campaigns.
When problems occur, many users are not able to discover how problems
can be resolved, or to whom they can complain. It is difficult to contact
Facebook, although this may improve with the appointment of a representative in
Simple measures can be taken which would assist users in the online
environment, especially when they are seeking help or information.
That the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the
Digital Economy encourages industry including the Internet Industry
Association, to enhance the accessibility to assistance or complaints
mechanisms on social networking sites; and develop a process that will allow
people who have made complaints to receive prompt advice about actions that
have been taken to resolve the matter, including the reasons why no action
Take down notices
The ACT Council of P&C Associations added that ‘owners of websites’
should be urged:
to introduce additional safety measures to protect children.
For example, while only the page creators on facebook can delete a post made by
a member of a group, the government should pressure sites like facebook to
automatically hide comments by users if there are a number of “dislikes”. The
government has limited power in relation to patrolling the internet and
therefore it should take a moral stance rather than using funds to establish an
online ombudsman whose role will be mostly ineffective.
Dr Helen McGrath emphasised that:
I would like to see some kind of seriously strong
recommendation made that all of those service providers respond more rapidly to
requests that are demonstrably genuine to remove content which is extremely
distressing. They are very slow at the moment. If you are lucky, you might get
it down in four weeks. 
The Australian Institute of Criminology commented that:
Australia could seek to play a greater role in international
co-operation on take down notices for child sexual abuse sites. A study by
Cambridge University compared times taken to take down different forms of
content. It was found that Phishing sites and sites which threaten banks’
commercial interests are taken down very quickly. The child abuse sites are by
contrast likely to stay up for many weeks due to the complexities of the fact
that different jurisdictions do not work together effectively, and reports are
routed via local law enforcement which may not prioritise the issue or be
properly trained to deal with it.
Evidence suggested that another area of concern was that, after lodging
a request to have information taken down, all a complainant could do was to wait
to see if the offending material disappeared. It is by no means certain that
any notice will be taken of complaints. Once a page was removed, it was common
that another page was quickly created containing similar material.
That the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the
Digital Economy invite the Consultative Working Group on Cybersafety to
negotiate protocols with overseas social networking sites to ensure that
offensive material is taken down as soon as possible.
The complaints-based process of ACMA has received increased reports
about online child abuse and child sexual abuse material hosted overseas. A
more central focused approach would enhance the operation of current and future
Because many of the offending sites are hosted overseas, they are not
subject to Australian legislation. Thus, although it is not appropriate to make
a recommendation in this area, the Committee believes that the sponsors of such
sites should take note of and adhere to guidelines promulgated by ACMA.
Point of sale
It is important that adequate information is available to all those
purchasing computers or mobile phones. The ACT Council of P&C Associations
would like to see better service provision at the point of sale.
The government should
legislate for mobile phone providers to make it explicit for parents when
signing new mobile phone contracts or allowing access to the iTunes store on a
child’s iPod that their child will have access to the internet on these
devices. Parents have indicated to Council that at times they have been unaware
that their child was provided access to the internet on their mobile phone or
iPod. While they may have signed a contract with service providers, the
provision of internet was not made explicit. Council recommends that the
government legislates that providers have an explicit, opt-in system, rather
than opt-out for providing the internet on mobile phones for children 18 years
or younger and that internet access for minors on mobile phones and iPods only
be allowed with parental approval.
In complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, some people referred
to inadequate advice at the point of sale.
Health and wellbeing
The Centre for Adolescent Health emphasised the positive impact of new
technologies enabling young people to access advice on health and wellbeing:
young people can be a bit wary of approaching professionals
if they need help; however, the internet opens up a whole range of
possibilities for them in terms of actually seeking help.
The Australian Psychological Society agreed:
They are also useful tools for specific kinds of young
people. For example, young people with Asperger’s syndrome or with social
phobia, whose social lives face to face are perhaps a little more limited or
more challenging, can use these tools to enhance their social connections.
BoysTown noted that in situations where young people are in crisis the
mobile phone may be the only avenue they have to seek assistance. It would like
to see assistance with the cost of these calls to ensure that a lack of credit
will not prevent a young person getting the assistance they seek.
The appropriateness of educational strategies was often raised during
Indeed, Murray-Harvey and Slee
(in preparation) found that strategies rated as effective by adults are not
generally used by young people e.g. talk to a professional at school; use the
school anti-bullying policy. Instead, young people prefer to use strategies
rated as ineffective by experts: e.g. wishing for a miracle; hoping it will
stop; taking it out on others; using drugs to feel better; pretend to be
cheerful. Pre-service teachers in this study were advocating advice and
strategies which young people do not use. This discrepancy is a problem that
Roar Educate commented that:
Technology is now available where students can be assessed
against benchmarks for cyber-safety and the data base can be interrogated on a
single student basis, an issue basis or professional development. This enable
students who are not getting the message to be identified earlier ... The
students are assessed against benchmarks. Their progress and results are
reported to teachers, either in individual or aggregated format. It is reported
to the parents to stimulate parent engagement about where their children are at
and whether they are actually understanding the issues and responsible use. It
also can be used by the principal to gauge not just where their school is at in
terms of becoming the eSmart school, but also how many of their teachers and
students have actually gone through this development.
The assessment against benchmarks can also be reported to parents/carers:
The holy grail that we are noticing in the UK is where the
head teacher or principal in the UK of a government school is the legal entity;
it is actually getting parents to take some responsibility. The vast majority
of cyberincidents that actually take place take place using private or home
based technologies, whether they be mobile phones or the brother’s, sister’s,
their own or their parents’, computer in the house, yet the social connections
are those made at the school.
Another area of possible improvement is the acceptable use agreements. Netbox
Blue called for:
the creation of an up-to-date policy for all internet, social
media and mobile device use, both inside and outside the school, needs to be
implemented by each school. This must include clear consequences for
inappropriate actions and it must be kept up to date and regularly communicated
to all stakeholders, which obviously includes students, teachers, parents and
This also provides an opportunity for a nationally consistent approach.
Input from young people
As discussed in the previous chapter, it is paramount that the voice of
young people be heard.
That students and young people from diverse and inclusive
communities be encouraged to actively contribute their voice to inform and
shape policies and practices which are age-appropriate, concerning
cyberbullying and cyber-safety strategies.
To encourage input from young people, appropriate strategies need to be
developed. One suggestion to learn more about the experience of young people
was creation of:
A practical education campaign where teens can see examples
of the consequences that their actions may lead to. This could involve young
people who have actually had to handle negative consequences from their actions
online. A Facebook page or website could be created where teens describe the
worst thing that has happened to them either because of mobile phone photos or
social media postings.
Another suggestions was:
the creation of a list of short and memorable questions that
teens should ask when being asked for personal information would also be useful
- Why do you want it?
- What are you going to
do with it?
A number of students participating in the Committee’s Are you safe? survey
explained the effect of having a police officer able to locate a young girl’s
address from the information of her profile in just four clicks. Students can
benefit from practical demonstrations of the consequences of placing too much
personal information online.
The Australian Psychological Society added that:
In the light of young people being aware of emerging
technologies (keeping pace with changes), and of their potential roles in
witnessing and intervening in cyber-safety threats (such as cyber-bullying)
among their peers, peer education and intervention programs should be developed
and adequately resourced as a key part of any cyber-safety initiative.
Seeking help online
Mr Stewart Healley suggested the establishment of a National
Cyberbullying 24 hour/seven days per week Hotline.
This would complement the existing Cyber-safety Help Button. Kids Helpline also
provides counselling service. One option is a possibility of directing these
calls to an existing service such as Kids Helpline, provided that appropriate
funding is provided.
BoysTown suggested that:
The Australian Government could assist young people to
identify credible online information by introducing a national accreditation
scheme. Australian websites providing information on health and social issues
impacting on children and young people could voluntarily seek accreditation
with a National Board. Accredited organisations would be recognised by a logo
similar to that used by the Heart Foundation and similar organisations.
It added that:
following the introduction of a National Accreditation
Scheme, the Australian Government instigates a communication and marketing
campaign to promote awareness of accredited online services among young people
and their parents/carers.
Parentline services are available in all Australian States and
Territories which could assist in additional awareness promotion if adequately
resourced. BoysTown therefore suggested that:
the Australian Government enter into discussions with
Parentlines to develop strategies that will increase their capacity to support
parents and carers in relation to online risks that impact children and young
National cyber-crime coordination centre
Google Australian & New Zealand argued that there was a need for a
national body to investigate, advocate and act on cyber-safety issues.
Cooperation with law enforcement
to combat child exploitation. Google cooperates with child safety
investigations, and has a legal team devoted to this effort 24 hours a day, 7
days a week. We respond to thousands of law enforcement requests for
assistance, and hundreds of subpoenas, each year. We also provide training and
technical assistance to law enforcement officials investigating online crimes
against children through forums such as the Internet Crimes Against Children
National Conference and the Virtual Global Taskforce.
The South Australian and the Western Australia Police drew attention the
need for greater coordination of available resources between agencies to deal
with cyber-safety issues. The WA Police referred to fragmentation of agencies
across Australia, and within agencies themselves.
The South Australian Police referred to international trends in cyber-
The United Kingdom, United States of America and New Zealand
have implemented centralised cyber crime reporting facilities. The roll out of
the National Broadband Network (NBN) and the imminent participation of
Australia in the European Convention on Cybercrime provides a timely
opportunity for Australia to improve the coordination of all cybercrime
security and safety activities through establishing a National Cyber Crime
It listed the possible features of such a cyber-crime centre, with units
dealing with reporting, prevention and training, and one focusing on relations
with offshore organisations. It would have to be funded by the Commonwealth,
and amalgamate some services currently provided by State/Territory law
enforcement, the AFP, ACMA, the Australian Crime Commission, the Tax Office and
other Federal agencies.
Timeliness of information
The timeliness of responses can sometimes be a problem. For example, evidence
about child exploration needs to be quarantined and Facebook’s quick response
in taking down inappropriate material can actually impede investigations.
The Australian Institute of Criminology called for a review of the mutual legal
assistance treaties relevant to transnational police investigations.
The Committee also received evidence from a number of industry players
on the difficulty of getting police assistance when they report significant
incidents. There is a need for greater
cooperation, therefore, from law enforcement bodies.
Costs for law enforcement agencies
Costs imposed by service providers on law enforcement agencies
requesting information about online accounts can make it difficult for
investigations to proceed. Mr Stewart Healley suggested that the Australian
provide the necessary resources, support and funding to cover
AFP and State Police for request of Account Details from Service Providers, who
currently charge a substantial fee for requests by Police for Account Details
in non life threatening incidents, under current Legislative conditions of
The AFP also drew attention to the costs involved:
Legal mechanisms for compelling CSPs to remove content are
limited, and are unlikely to succeed due to the costly and lengthy process
involved. Even where a legal remedy was successful, it would likely be
detrimental to the AFP's future relationships with that CSP where assistance of
an even more critical nature is required.
That the relevant Ministers in consultation with service
providers consider how costs may be reduced for law enforcement agencies
collecting evidence against online offenders.
Throughout this Inquiry, the Committee sought to understand better the
views and concerns of young people in the online environment. Recommendations
have addressed ways of involving parents/carers more effectively in promoting
good cyber-ethics and practices. While industry and not-for-profit
organisations have made significant contributions to cyber-safety for the whole
community, there needs to be greater coordination of their efforts.
Underpinning many Recommendations is the need for a cooperative national
approach to all aspects of cyber-safety.
The Committee is confident that, if its Recommendations are adopted, the
safety of young Australians when online can be improved, especially if their
knowledge and capacities are harnessed.