The Albanese Government has failed the online safety of Australian school children in its October Budget.
In cynically announcing recipients of the Coalition’s Online Safety Grants program today which was delayed by many months, Minister Rowland has attempted to cover up her paltry additional commitment to online safety.
Every Australian parent should be disgusted by Labor’s failure to take online safety seriously, particularly in schools.
In contrast to Labor’s inadequate commitment of just $6 million for online safety in schools, prior to the election the Coalition committed to a $23 million eSafety schools package. This comprised:
- strengthening our successful Trusted eSafety Provider Program to ensure schools engage external online safety providers that meet appropriate education standards, such as The Carly Ryan Foundation and the Alannah and Madeline Foundation;
- continuing to directly support third party providers through the Online Safety Grants program;
- giving every school in Australia materials to raise awareness of the services provided by the eSafety Commissioner, so parents, teachers and students know where to turn for help;
- additional resources and training for school children on emerging online safety and mental health issues, particularly body image concerns and digital media literacy;
- in-person teacher training to help educators support students and become ‘eSafety teacher champions’ in schools;
- delivery of the ‘Safety Animal Series’, building on the long-term success of the ‘Healthy Harold’ model, to support 5 to 8 year old children to adopt better online safety habits; and
- providing every school in Australia access to a free expanded version of the eSafety Commissioner’s successful Online Safety Toolkit, allowing them to self-assess and improve online safety capability.
Prior to the election, the Coalition also committed to:
- parental control software for devices through a binding industry code under the Online Safety Act;
- a further $10 million for the eSafety Commissioner to deliver improved support services for victims;
- a further $2 million under the Online Safety Grants program for women and girls in CALD communities;
- legislating the Social Media (Anti-Trolling) laws to hold social media companies to account for online abuse; and
- legislating the Online Privacy Bill to provide parental controls and better protections for children when communicating online.
It is appalling that Labor’s hapless Minister for Communications saw no merit in providing more funding for the eSafety Commissioner or the Online Safety Grants program.
I also condemn Labor for actively opposing our anti-trolling laws and for refusing to back online privacy laws to better protect children.
Labor was missing in action on online safety when in opposition and its Budget shows that online safety, including in schools, continues to be the lowest of priorities.
7 November 2022