Youth Advisory Council gives young Australians a voice on online safety

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has formed a new Online Safety Youth Advisory Council to give young Australians a voice in shaping online safety policy for the future and designing youth-centred initiatives.

Younger Australians should not continue to be at the coal face of this great social experiment we call ‘the Internet’. They spend a lot more of their life in the online world than older people, so we need them to share their opinions and experiences on how to make the internet safer and more inclusive,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

Announced by the Australian Government in December 2021, the council will provide advice to government about issues that young people experience online and explore ways of supporting them to have positive online experiences.

“I thank all of those young people who took the time to submit an application to be a part of the Youth Advisory Council. We were so impressed with the quality of the applications, and the passion we saw from young people to help play an active and meaningful role in making the online world become a safer place,” said Ms Inman Grant.

“In advance of Youth Week, we are now pleased to announce that the application process has been completed and the Youth Advisory Council has been established with 24 young people from right across Australia, who will begin work in the coming weeks.”

The Online Safety Youth Advisory Council will co-design and develop online safety resources that will help maximise the benefits to young people of being online and minimise potential harms. The council will also give young people the opportunity to ensure their lived experiences and opinions are heard and understood by online safety policymakers.

NSW resident Imaaz, aged 17, submitted a successful application to be a part of the council, writing: “A safer and more positive online world would be one that is empowering to all individuals, one in which there is understanding, inclusivity, respect, and trust between all users.”

Tamara, a 17-year-old from Victoria, is another successful applicant, who said: “A safer and more positive online world to me would mean early education for children about online safety. If I were to be selected for the Youth Advisory Council, I would bring my extensive experience in educating and igniting passion for technology in young children.”

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, said: “The Online Safety Youth Advisory Council will enable us to draw upon the lived experience of our young people, to help develop policy and make the internet a safer place for all Australians. I welcome these young people to the council and know they will make an important contribution to the development of new resources that will help keep other young Australians safer online.”

Western Sydney University Professor Amanda Third, who led a study that engaged young people in designing how a youth advisory group will operate, said: “It’s fantastic that this vibrant and diverse group of young people will work together to define the online safety agenda and guide eSafety’s work to protect Australians online. Talking regularly with young people, to really understand their different experiences, is one vital ingredient in creating a step change that will see young Australians better protected online and able to maximise all the benefits of digital technology”.

eSafety is committed not only to hearing the voices of young people but heeding this advice and putting it into practice so all young Australians can benefit. This initiative builds on eSafety’s research and is part of a broader youth engagement strategy.

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