The Federal Government has launched the National eSmart Week with an aim to keep young Australians safe online and combat cyberbullying.
Hosted by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation in collaboration with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, the program will run this week, and feature a range of events and activities tackling cyberbullying.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is a charity focusing on keeping children safe from violence and is based in Melbourne.
The National eSmart Week is dedicated to helping build cyber safe communities and will be running until Friday. The national week, which is funded by the Telstra Foundation, aims to create awareness, solutions and ideas centred on cyber security, with a specific focus on young people.
It provides different content for schools libraries, children and teachers, using behaviour-change initiatives to provide a framework to support cyber safe environments.
The week is run to coincide with the National Child Protection Week, and will feature a range of events and webinars for schools and libraries. There will also be games and videos designed to teach students how to be safe online.
The week will also feature a competition with prizes worth $5000 for promoting the community’s cyber safety work across social media.
According to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, about one in seven Australians reported that they had been subjected to cyberbullying in the last year, while about 60 percent of young Australians aged 12 to 17 had witnessed racist or hateful comments online.
The government is also urging Australian schools, libraries and community organisations to register as “eSmart”. There are already 2,200 schools, 200,000 students and over 60 percent of the country’s public libraries registered as eSmart.
Since July 2015, the Office of the eSafey Commissioner has completed more than 22,000 illegal online content investigations, addressed more than 500 serious cyberbullying complaints and delivered education presentations to more than 100,000 Australian students, teachers, parents and members of the community through its virtual classroom program.
The office also recently launched its new Young & eSafe platform, which sets out to help young Australians “counter online hate and encourage positive values”. The platform features advice and resources that have been developed by young people, for young people, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.
“We’re empowering young people to use technology as a force for good and as a platform to condemn hatred, racism and abuse,” Grant said.
“Half of young people say they would take some form of action when confronted with hateful comments online - we want to amplify that majority and give them the skills to be positive influencers.”
Cyber security as a whole has been a key focus for the federal government of late, especially following the unveiling of its $230 million cyber security strategy in April last year. It comes as a number of large-scale cyber attacks have occurred this year, with the costs of such attacks estimated to potentially cost up to $67.1 billion - more than five times the cost of the devastating Queensland floods in 2011.