Bendigo has hosted the Coalition Online Safety Working Group’s only regionally-focussed cyber safety forums and roundtable discussions.
The Working Group has heard Bendigo Football Netball League is ahead of the game when it comes to player safety online.
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said it was exciting to see the progress made by the League around their cyber safety policies and procedures.
“A number of clubs have identified social media champions who manage their team’s online presence, and support players and officials with their individual internet activities.”
The COSWG then received a presentation on the Loddon-Mallee Cyber Safety Project, which aims to fill a recognised gap in cyber safety research in regional areas.
Working Group Chair Paul Fletcher, Member for Bradfield, said the study was extremely impressive.
“It is great to see local community leaders take up the initiative to develop practical, effective tools to educate children and teenagers about the risks of using the internet, and how to manage those risks.
“The COSWG has travelled around the country and this presentation stood out as one of the most effective online safety initiatives we have seen.”
The COSWG also attended student forums at Catholic College Bendigo and Strathfieldsaye Primary School, which gave the Working Group great insight into how young people and teenagers use the internet.
Senator McKenzie said it was fantastic to hear directly from the students, who said there is a difference in the way regional and metropolitan-based young people use social media.
“Students felt the real world and cyber world were more interconnected in regional areas, due to the close-knit nature of our communities.”
“Students wanted their parents to learn about their online habits with them, rather than in isolation, and gave a range of suggestions to improve their online experiences, including increased identification requirements to access social media.”
At a forum held at La Trobe University, justice and higher education experts pointed to a disjoint between our legislation and technological developments.
“The internet provides a great opportunity for society,” Senator McKenzie said.
“But the message was clear: education is the key, and society needed to work with technology rather than against it.”