The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie has invited Victorians to have their say on cyber-safety as part of a Coalition review of online safety for children.
“It is estimated that 2.2 million Australian children actively engage online; it is fundamental to their way of communicating and learning,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Our youth are the first generation of ‘internet natives’ and while it brings much opportunity – particularly for those who once may have been isolated by their geography – parents, teachers and policy makers are faced with a new set of challenges.
“We know that many children have been tormented by online bullying and there are real issues about privacy and young people having access to sites which are inappropriate for them.”
Senator McKenzie said she was pleased to be asked to join the Coalition’s newly‑formed Online Safety Working Group and contribute to the policy development given her own interests and experiences.
“As a parent, secondary school teacher and lecturer, I am acutely aware of the risks associated with the internet and social media and am also interested in the impact of technology on human relationships.
“The modern online environment is not just websites and email, but it now includes interactive activities like social media sites, SMS messaging, skype, apps and games. The internet is no longer just accessible through the household PC, but is accessed through ipods, tablets, game consoles and phones.”
Senator McKenzie said the Working Group would consult with key technology, education and cyber-safety leaders, parents and young people, as well as other interested parties, to further develop its online safety policy in the areas of education, regulation and enforcement.
“In forming this Working Group, the Coalition is not seeking to repeat Labor’s ham-fisted attempt to put a filter on the internet or to hinder the dynamic nature of the online environment, but we do want to assist and equip parents and teachers in their role protecting our children and preparing them for adulthood.
“I am inviting parents, carers and teachers to share their experience of protecting their own children or students from the dangers of the internet, so that it can help the Working Group make the best recommendations.”
Victorians wanting to make a submission to the Working Group can write to Senator McKenzie at PO Box 2047, Bendigo Delivery Centre, VIC 3554 or email email@example.com.
The Online Safety Working Group will be chaired by the Member for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher MP and will report back to the Federal Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Tony Abbott MHR and senior shadow ministers by the middle of the year.