Cyber Security

10 Feb 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (17:36): I would like to begin by commending my colleague the member for Stirling for presenting this motion to the House today. As the father of three teenage children, he and his lovely wife know better than anyone the challenges that parents face in this day and age in helping their children navigate the online space and keeping their kids safe online. I also want to acknowledge the tireless work of our colleague the member for Forrest in this area as well. She fought for many years to see the eSafety Commissioner established and was successful in doing so, and she has presented hundreds of information sessions to schools all over Australia, but particularly in her electorate, helping to educate children as to how to stay safe online.


Recent technological advances have made us more connected than ever. We can stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues, even if they're on the other side of the world. Modern communication has created great social, educational and economic benefits. But these technological developments have come with challenges, especially when it comes to young people and smartphones. These challenges are illustrated in the 2018 research conducted by the eSafety Commissioner, referred to in this motion, which found that among young people aged eight to 17 who are online in Australia 25 per cent have been contacted by strangers or someone they did not know, 13 per cent have received repeated unwanted online messages from someone and 13 per cent have reported having lies or rumours spread about them. As a community, we don't tolerate physical bullying or abuse, and we must ensure that we don't tolerate online bullying or abuse either. Protecting the community, especially our children, is at the heart of our government's online agenda, and I'm proud of Australia's record as a global leader on e-safety.

In 2015, the Liberal government established the world's first Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner to help protect Australian children from cyberbullying and to take a national leadership role in online safety for children through education, advice and enforcement. Again, I acknowledge the very good work of the member for Forrest in this area. Australia has also enacted the world's first kids cyberbullying-material take-down regime, giving the eSafety Commissioner the power to direct social media organisations to take down materials and issue end-user notices to individuals. This power to compel social media organisations is significant given that 53 per cent of images constituting image based abuse are distributed through Facebook, while 11 per cent are distributed through Snapchat.


Similarly, we have provided the eSafety Commissioner with additional powers to combat image based abuse, including revenge porn, by issuing removal notices to websites and content hosts. Thanks to reforms introduced by the Morrison government in 2019, online platforms that fail to remove abhorrent violent material in a reasonable time frame can now be subject to tougher penalties. Our government has been at the forefront in ensuring that regulators and law enforcement agencies have the resources and authority to act swiftly to combat abhorrent online activity and abhorrent violent content, like terrorism and child exploitation material. In total, we have invested around $100 million to support these activities and increase online safety.


At the local level we can all play a part by educating ourselves and our communities about online safety. We're lucky to have a number of dedicated organisations in our community who do vital work with children, parents and school communities alike, facilitating conversations on e-safety and giving people the tools to protect themselves online. The Carly Ryan Foundation, a harm-prevention charity based in South Australia, undertakes life-changing work in delivering online safety and healthy relationship seminars to students and parents around the country. The foundation is named in memory of Carly Ryan, who was 15 years old when she was murdered by an online paedophile and predator. The foundation was established by Carly's mum, Sonya Ryan. I have had the honour of hosting an online bullying and cybersafety forum with Sonya Ryan, along with my state colleague Carolyn Power MP, at the Edwardstown Primary School. I know that the parents, students and teachers in attendance learnt so much from this, as did I. It gave children and their parents and teachers some very practical advice on how to stay safe online. Sonya's courageous work has taken her to the United Nations, and her tireless advocacy has seen law reform introduced both federally and at the state level.

We know that online safety requires a whole-of-community approach. Parents, teachers, governments and wonderful organisations like the Carly Ryan Foundation all play a part in ensuring our children and young people stay safe online.