Educators commit to closer cooperation for online safety
Education authorities and peak bodies will today join a new national council led by the eSafety Commissioner to fight the rising tide of online harms in school communities throughout Australia.
The National Online Safety Education Council will meet regularly to boost cooperation among educators, addressing a range of interconnected harms occurring in Australian classrooms, school yards and homes.
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the Council would support a unified response to negative content and abuse online, creating a forum to share resources and information about what is working to prevent or manage harms.
“Complaints to eSafety have increased substantially across all our reporting schemes since the pandemic, including those affecting school-age children,” Ms Inman Grant said.
“Last financial year alone we saw a 65 per cent increase in cyberbullying reports and a 55 per cent increase in image-based abuse reports.
“Almost two-thirds of young people aged 14-17 have been exposed to harmful content online and schools play a pivotal role in helping them develop the digital skills they need to stay safe. They are also vital in dealing at the coal face with critical incidents.”
Among the key agenda items for today’s inaugural meeting will be discussion of the latest threat trends and challenges, and an update on eSafety’s progress toward developing an age verification roadmap for online pornography, canvassing both technical and educational approaches to preventing and reducing harm.
“The challenges schools face are not unique to any one system or region – they are increasingly common across Australia,” Ms Inman Grant said.
“We need to support all schools and ensure students, parents and teachers everywhere know how to report abuse and access resources through eSafety.”
The Council includes authorities and peak bodies representing schools in all sectors, states and territories, along with eSafety and key national bodies.
“eSafety works closely with these organisations in a range of contexts and we’re looking forward to gathering their valued insight and expertise together around a single table,” Ms Inman Grant said.
Quotes from National Online Safety Education Council members
A spokesperson for the Tasmanian Government Department for Education, Children and Young People said: “The Council will provide an important conduit for increased awareness not just by schools, teachers and students but also parents and the wider community about safe online practices.”
A spokesperson for the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia said: “Through this collaboration we are aiming for greater clarity and streamlined access to evidence-based resources that help schools address, prevent or minimise online safety issues for students, as well as appropriately respond to online safety issues in a timely manner when they occur.”
A Queensland Catholic Education Commission representative said: “This initiative is intended to increase awareness, support and implementation of effective online safety strategies, policies and resources. It will support and enhance the capacity and capabilities of education authorities and schools in this important area so staff and students in particular become more empowered as digital citizens.”
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The eSafety Commissioner is Australia’s independent regulator for online safety. Our purpose is to help safeguard all Australians from online harms and to promote safer, more positive online experiences. For more information visit eSafety.gov.au