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Meet the eSafety Youth Council

The eSafety Youth Council is a group of motivated and passionate young Australians aged 13 to 24 years, seeking to improve online experiences for other young people.

Find out more about the young people who make up the eSafety Youth Council and hear from them about their visions for improving online safety.

Current members include Aaron, AddisonAmelia, Annelise, Ayushi, Cobra, Elliot, Harrison, Imaaz, Isabella, Izak, Janessa, Libby, Logan, Maddie, Nicholas, Rachael, Rachel, Rispah, Ruhani, Sonja, Tamara, Xavier and Zahra.

Hover or click on the circles to learn about the members in each state or territory.

eSafety Youth Council member demographics

New South Wales: non-binary, 22; female, 19; female, 17; female, 17; female, 17; male, 16; male, 15; female, 15; female, 14; female, 14; female, 13.

Queensland: male, 22; male, 19; male, 19; male, 19; male, 15. 

South Australia: female, 13.

Victoria: female, 17; female, 17; male, 15; female, 14; female, 14; female, 13.

Western Australia: female, 22.

Visual Audio

Addison: We are the generation of online and tech.

Tamara: Tech is an inaugural part of our lives.

Xavier: We're born with technology in our hand. 

Addison: We grow up with tech.

Harrison: We are the digital generation.

Logan: Young people are really what are leading us into the future of technology. So we've gotta have voice.

In 2022, the eSafety Youth Council was created to ensure the voice of Australia's young people was heard and represented. The Council met in-person for the first time in April 2023.

Harrison: It's really important to have a day like today because young people are some of the most prolific users of technology, but are also some of the most vulnerable to online harms.

So having open dialogue with industry leaders and young people is so, so, so crucial to having a safe online world.

Xavier: Today's obviously a really important day because we get to come together and be in the same room and share ideas, which aren't really accessible online. 

As great as being able to meet via Zoom or Teams is you don't get that same connection as a group. And we also are able to meet some really high-up executives and be able to share our feelings and thoughts with them and work really collaboratively with them.

Izak: I think it's important to have a day like today just to meet some like-minded people and be able to connect with everyone that I've just been meeting online for so long. And yeah, just being able to see them today has been really good.

Tamara: For the eSafety team to actually actively have us come together and be able to talk to representatives from some of the most massive big tech companies from the world, I think it actually means that some change can be made to the online sides and, you know, some of the issues that young people are facing today can actually be improved upon.

In late 2022, eSafety's Youth Council wrote an open letter to the Big Tech industry. Representatives from Big Tech came to meet the Council members and discuss the issues in person.

Izak: I think as many big tech companies that came, it was incredible. I was certainly not expecting it. And it's been fantastic meeting everyone and being a part of it.

Sonja: It was a privilege to be able to talk to them because they do have the power to kind of address these issues. So the fact that they went out of their way to speak to us, it's a positive step.

Xavier: I think big tech coming, listening, the conversation, shows that they want to do something. They understand that there are issues. 

We all know there are issues, but maybe it also shows that they don't know how to deal with it in a way that's gonna be fair and equitable for everyone. So they want our help and we love to help them.

Libby: The letter to Big Tech has been something that I'm really proud to have worked on, to be able to put in a really succinct, really snappy way, all the things that we need to see from Big Tech. Not only that we want, that we need to see, in order to feel safe.

Logan: I'd like big Tech to know that we're watching, we're making sure they're doing the right thing because it affects us and we're gonna hold them accountable.

Tamara: I'm hoping for the representatives for Big Tech to actually listen to us and to make some change, to listen to some of our ideas and about some of the negative experiences we've actually experienced online.

Sonja: Well, I would like Big Tech to know that we are willing to work on these issues with them. We don't just wanna put them to the side and say that everything they do is negative. We know that they can improve on this too with us.

Where to from here?

Izak: I just like big Tech to have an open mind and start the conversations because it's definitely a marathon and not a sprint. We definitely have a lot of work to do, but I think today was definitely the first step for something great.

Sonja: I see this working as including lots of consultations with young people and also making sure that we kind of understand the limitations to what can be done as well so we're not just kind of telling them what they have to do, we also understand what they can do.

Harrison: I hope that today's conversations are just the start of a continued dialogue between eSafety, young people and industry.

Libby: I'm hoping that the conversation doesn't end here, today. I really wanna make sure that, whether it's Big Tech or whether it's young people or the eSafety Commissioner as well, that the discussion keeps going, that we get feedback, and that we're able to make ongoing change.

Logan: Having conversation around the issues that we're facing today is the most important thing that we can do. If you can't have dialogue, you can't have solutions.

Harrison: Today doesn't necessarily have everything that we've wanted to achieve, but it's only the start. We can continually make progress together for a safer internet.

April meeting wrap-up – eSafety Youth Council

eSafety Youth Council members discuss their key takeaways from their first face-to-face meeting.
Audio

Dear Big Tech,

We have a love-hate relationship with you, but we want to make it work.

An estimated 70 per cent of young people have had a negative experience online, like being harassed or abused. That's as many as 2.4 million Australians aged 14 to 24. 

To keep using and enjoying your platforms, we need to feel safe. 

Our number one ask? Don't ignore people who break your rules. Impose consequences.

We don't want your platforms to be a home for trolls, haters and predators. 

Please stop putting profits ahead of our safety and wellbeing.

By saying no to hate and abuse, you'll spark more collaboration, more creativity and more spaces for positivity to shine. 

We need your urgent action to make the online world safer for us and future generations.

Regards, eSafety Youth Council.

P.S. Imposing consequences is just the start. We've got more safety ideas for you.

eSafety Youth Council's open letter to Big Tech

The eSafety Youth Council urges Big Tech to take more action when users abuse or harass others on online platforms.
Visual Audio

Harrison: Young people are some of the most prolific users of technology, but are also some of the most vulnerable to online harms.

eSafety's Youth Council met together for the first time in April 2023. During the course of the day they discussed the online issues which were most important to them.

Addison: The topic that I'd be interested in hearing about today is the correlation between online safety or online unsafety and its impact on mental health, not only on young kids, but also adults.

Sonja: I'm particularly interested in the impacts of the online world, on mental health of young people because it's an increasing issue. Um, and it's not really talked about that much.

It's kind of put to the side as something that everyone might go through or they might feel sad every now and then, but it's actually an issue that's intensified by the online world and it can be prevented or minimised.

Addison: I have struggled with mental health a lot on my own, and I know that unlike that online world, social media, all that has a really big impact on people's self-esteem, mental health, sometimes it's even physical health. It would just be interesting to see how what happens online affects real life.

Logan: As a young person, I see a lot of the suffering that can come from issues online, especially sexual exploitation. And that's the easiest way for children to get attacked by predators and things like that. Being online is really where that comes from.

Libby: For me, I'm really passionate about image-based abuse as something that I've experienced, but then also something that I now get to educate the young people that I work with on. I think that's something that I'm really passionate about talking to other young people about, but also talking to decision-makers and how we can make online spaces safer for everyone.

Xavier: How our big media companies can create sustainable platforms for young people to continue to thrive on and use effectively, ensuring that everything, all spaces are equally safe for all different types of groups. And a collaboration between young people and adults as well.

Tamara: Online harassment, specifically in the gaming space, because especially being a woman and engaging in some online games, it can be a pretty toxic environment. 

Izak: A big thing for me was everything eSafety, with gaming and eSports and everything like that. It's just been something I've been really passionate about since high school.

It's been something I've done for many years and I play games all the time. So just being able to try and improve the safety for young people on gaming platforms – it's really important to me.

Reflecting on online issues

eSafety Youth Council members discuss the online issues that are of most concern to them.

Libby (she/her)

'When we make the online world safer for young people, we make it safer for everyone.'

Ruhani (she/her)

'Cyber safety isn’t a luxury. It’s a right – and a responsibility to help create a culture of respect and inspiration online.'

Elliot (he/him)

'Online safety is achieved when both people’s mental health and physical health and lives are not worsened (but hopefully improved) by the online world.'

Imaaz (he/him)

'True cybersecurity is preparing for what’s next, not what was last.' – Neil Rerup

Maddie (she/her)

'It's increasingly important for young people to have access to news and support online, as they are the future leaders and caretakers.'

Rispah (she/her)

'Every day we take a gamble in a game that has few rules.'

Tamara (she/her)

'We have an ethical obligation to protect ourselves and to educate people who are vulnerable in the cyber security space.'

Zahra (she/her)

'They tried to bury us forgetting we were the seeds.'

Sonja (she/her)

'What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation. This starts with discussions surrounding harassment and a lack of safety measures in a world where reliance on technology has skyrocketed.'

Logan (he/him)

'We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.' – Alan Turing

Addison (she/they)

'As technology is becoming more and more integrated into everyday life, online safety should be treated with just as much (or more) importance as physical safety.'

Harrison (he/him)

'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.'

Nicholas (he/him)

'The online space has been like the Wild West for too long. With big tech prioritising profit over the welfare of their users. Through meaningful and considered solutions – it’s time we make a change for the better.'

Xavier (he/him)

'Creating a supportive online environment for young people to thrive is crucial. We must be proactive in promoting online safety to ensure young people can explore and learn in a positive online space.'

Izak (he/him)

'We have come far to make our lives safer whilst online, but we have to go much further to make a real difference.'

Rachel (she/her)

'The internet is a crucial aspect in our lives, and all people should be able to experience this safely and without risk of harm.'

Janessa (she/her)

'Online safety is crucial to protect young people from threats and promote responsible technology use.'