The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced a targeted plan to create a safer online environment for Australian children.
‘Although the internet has opened up a world of possibilities and benefits to Australian children, it has also exposed them to continually emerging and evolving dangers that did not previously exist,’ Senator Conroy said.
‘That is why the Australian Government has committed $125.8 million to a comprehensive range of cyber-safety measures, including law enforcement, filtering and awareness, over the next four years.’
The Government’s cyber-safety funding will provide $49 million to law enforcement, ensuring that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Child Protection Operations Team can expand its capacity to detect and investigate online child abuse, with 91 additional AFP members dedicated to online child protection by 2011.
The funding will allow the AFP to establish a victim identification and support capacity, to aid in the recovery of child abuse victims nationally and internationally.
This initiative will also provide for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to handle prosecutions and related activities arising from the increased investigations of online predators flowing through from the AFP’s investigations.
Central to the Government’s plan to make the internet a safer place for children is the introduction of Internet Service Provider (ISP) level filtering of material such as child pornography.
The ISP filtering policy is being developed through an informed and considered approach, including a laboratory trial, extensive industry consultation, and close examination of overseas models to assess their suitability for Australia.
‘ISPs in a number of European and other countries are already filtering child abuse material. While there may be technical and cost hurdles, the message from other countries is that these can be overcome,’ Senator Conroy said.
A real world ‘live’ pilot involving ISPs and their customers will follow an Australian Communications and Media Authority laboratory trial due to be completed in June 2008.
In addition, the Government is developing a range of measures to help empower children to be responsible online participants. It will provide parents, teachers, trainee teachers, librarians and children with up-to-date, comprehensive and age-appropriate online cyber-safety resources and assistance.
‘Cyber-safety means helping parents and teachers as well as educating children to be good cyber-citizens,’ Senator Conroy said.
The Government will:
* overhaul the existing online safety website, making to make it easier to use and ensure it provides the best available information;
* develop a new web site specifically for children;
* provide education resources and a dedicated cyber-safety helpline;
* expand the terms of reference for the Cyber-Safety Consultative Working Group to include all aspects of cyber-safety;
* support further Australian research into the online environment; and
* facilitate a Youth Advisory Group to ensure programs remain relevant and on target.
‘The Youth Advisory Group will advise the consultative working group on cyber-safety measures from a young person’s perspective. This will ensure young people have a clear voice on cyber-safety concerns and solutions,’ Senator Conroy said.
‘Ongoing research into the changing digital environment will assist in identifying issues and targeting future policy and funding.’
The former government’s National Filter Scheme which made home-based PC filters available via download or from a CD-Rom will be closed to new users from 31 December 2008, with existing PC filter users to be provided with support from the PC filter companies until 30 June 2010.
‘This program had a very limited take-up and only 20 per cent of those who did download the filter continued to use it,’ said Senator Conroy.
‘Funding will be redirected to support ISPs making available a filtered internet service, or ‘clean feed’, to all homes, schools and public internet points accessible to children.’
Date: 13 May 2008
Contact: Tim Marshall 0408 258 457
Plan to protect children online receives $125.8 million in funding
Why is this important?
* Whilst the internet has created substantial benefits for children it has also exposed them to a number of dangers including exposure to offensive content.
* Parents rightly expect the Australian Government to play its part in ensuring the protection of children online.
* The Australian Government has taken a proactive response to community concerns through a comprehensive range of measures. This approach recognises that there is no single solution to ensure children can access the internet safely.
* These initiatives provide the tools to educate and empower parents, teachers and children to ensure that children can access the internet safely.
Who will benefit?
* Parents, teachers, librarians and children will be able to access a comprehensive range of cyber-safety initiatives that will educate and empower them to use the internet responsibly and safely.
* The initiatives will tackle the issue of cyber-safety from a number of directions to help clean up the online environment and protect Australian children from the dangers of internet now and into the future.
What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?
* The Commonwealth Government has committed $125.8 million for The Plan for Cyber-safety for 2008–09 to 2011–12.
Timeframe for delivery
* The ACMA ISP filtering laboratory trial is due to be completed by 30 June 2008.
* A real world live pilot will follow the ACMA laboratory trial. It is expected that consumers will have the ability to participate in this pilot.”