National Youth Council sets agenda to keep peers safe online

Australia’s Online Safety Youth Advisory Council will meet for the first time today to discuss their vision for creating safer, more empowering online spaces.

The Council is made up of 25 Australians aged 13 to 24 and was born out of extensive consultations with young people, who recommended that the eSafety Commissioner work directly with them to address their online safety issues. 

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said she welcomes the advice of the Council on how it wants to work with eSafety and the Australian Government to support young people and achieve long-term change.

“Australia is at the forefront of a global movement seeking to revolutionise the way we build, use and interact with technology, so that online safety is a primary consideration, not an afterthought,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“Achieving large-scale change in this complex and increasingly devolved tech landscape requires genuine collaboration – by tech companies, government and regulators, together with users, especially young people and children. 

“The Council gives young Australians a genuine voice in designing youth-centred initiatives and helping shape online safety policy for the future.”

The inaugural meeting will canvas how the Council will define online safety for the purposes of advising and reporting to government, and how they will collaborate between official meetings.

Harrison Oates, aged 18 from Queensland, said he looks forward to discussing the real-world impacts of online life with his fellow Council members.

“The digital world and ‘real’ world are no longer distinct entities. They’re inextricably linked, and what happens in one has very real impacts in the other,” Harrison said.

“A safer and more positive online world would respect privacy, while rigorously combatting disinformation, criminal activity, and ensuring vulnerable young people are directed to services when they need help.” 

The meeting follows this week’s launch of a new youth-led campaign, SCROLL, developed by eSafety in partnership with young creatives and rolling out across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

The campaign comes as eSafety reported a steep rise in complaints about image-based abuse by people aged under 25, which almost doubled in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2021.

“It’s likely that the reports eSafety receives about online harms, including image-based abuse and cyberbullying, are just a fraction of what’s actually happening – because shame and fear of punishment can stop young people from asking for support,” Ms Inman Grant said. 

“We want the Council’s advice to help us understand what their ideal online experience looks like, and what support they need to access more positive experiences and opportunities online.”

The Youth Advisory Council will meet four times over the next 12 months before providing a report to government on how to empower more young people to take control of their online experience. 

To find out more, visit esafety.gov.au/online-safety-youth-advisory-council.
 

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