The federal government will spend $10 million over four years to help improve online safety for children.
Funding will be provided in three parts: $7.5 million to provide online safety programs for schools; $100,000 to support Australian-based research and information campaigns on online safety; and $2.4 million to establish and operate the Office of the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner.
According to the Budget 2014 documents, the independent Commissioner will provide a national leadership role for online safety issues for industry, families, and groups responsible for the wellbeing of children.
The Abbott government flagged this funding before the September election last year.
In a statement issued today, Paul Fletcher, the parliamentary security to the minister for communications, said children’s online safety is a priority for the government.
“A recent public consultation process highlighted community concern that more should be done to enhance online safety, with research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority indicating that around 21 per cent of 14?15 year olds report being cyber?bullied,” he said.
“Many parents and schools feel ill?equipped to respond to the challenge of protecting children from online dangers.”
He added that the government has responded to widespread community concern that more should be done to protect Australian children from harmful cyber-bullying material.
The government will soon announce the outcome of public consultation on arrangements for the Children’s e?Safety Commissioner; a complaints system, backed by legislation, to get harmful material targeted at children down quickly from social media sites; and whether there should be a new, simplified cyber?bullying offence or civil penalty regime.
Responding to the announcement, the Comms Alliance said it welcomed the increased focus on online safety for children through new in-school programs, it was unconvinced that establishing a new agency in the form of an e-safety Commissioner is a “necessary part of that policy thrust.”