Sunshine Coast says no to Cyberbullying at Wallace’s eSafety Event

Cyber-bullying, online abuse, and cyber-crime were on the agenda at an eSafety Community Meeting in Kawana last night. More than 100 Sunshine Coast parents, teachers and other community members gathered to hear about what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones online in a session led by Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant. The Forum was organised by Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace.

Mr Wallace said: “One in five of our teenage students experienced cyberbullying in the past 12 months. Another 17% were exposed to inappropriate content. As the recent tragic case of Amy Everrett has shown, the consequences for the development and mental health of our young people can be catastrophic.”

“I have been working closely with the Prime Minister and the eSafety Commissioner to explore what we can do with the major social media companies to improve mental health outcomes for young people. I wanted to bring some of this work to our local community, and make sure that Sunshine Coast people are as informed and protected as possible.” He said.

Attendees heard about the activities and the platforms that are trending among young people in 2018, including live streaming, ‘story’ functions and deletable media. Attendees learnt about the interactive chat functions imbedded in popular platforms like xbox or Musical.ly, which parents are often not aware give their children the ability to chat unsupervised to adults and children all over the world.

Survey evidence from the eSafety Commissioner suggests that of the 55,400 school age children on the Sunshine Coast 6,300 have suffered from cyberbullying in the past 12 months, while a further 6,400 have been exposed to inappropriate content.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said “There are a range of benefits to the internet and a range of harms. What we want parents and grandparents on the Sunshine Coast to understand is what are the risks, how do they mitigate those and how do they maximise the benefits. Parents and grandparents are the front line of defence. There are resources available for parents, young people and teachers at www.esafety.gov.au, but ultimately if we want to make a difference this needs to be part of the everyday curriculum. From when we first give children access to the online world, we need to start talking to them about the digital dos and don’ts, rights and responsibilities and how they develop the resilience and critical thinking skills they need to be good digital citizens.”

Parents and grandparents at the Forum learnt about the importance of creating a technology checklist when introducing new technology into the home to help to understand and mitigate the safety risks for the whole family. Protective behaviours and strategies for children were addressed, such as encouraging communication, building resilience and empathy with others and closely monitoring use. Finally the cyberbullying and abuse reporting process was explained, including the powerful role the eSafety Commissioner can have.

Kawana Waters State College Principal Colin Allen-Waters said “The most important challenge that is facing our whole community is the safety of our children. A normal part of growing-up in a modern world, is our young people connecting with others on-line. At Kawana Waters State College we believe that it is critical that our students stay safe at all times. We have a strong focus on e-safety and actively teach all of our students from Prep to year 12, how to recognize what they need to do to protect themselves while on-line.  But this is not a challenge that is there just for the students or schools to solve. If we are to keep our kids safe, our whole community must step up to create a safe environment for our communities most valuable asset, our children.“

Mr Wallace added “I want to thank everyone who came along to last night’s event. We all need to do more to protect ourselves and our children online. Ultimately we need to change society’s attitude and learn to show respect to others online. I hope that last night made a contribution to making that a reality on the Sunshine Coast.”

For more information about protecting yourself or others online, or to report an incident of cyberbully, illegal content, or image based abuse, visit https://www.esafety.gov.au/

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Authorised by Andrew Wallace MP, Liberal National Party, 11/10 Lake Kawana Blvd, Bokarina, QLD, 4575