Families Australia: submission to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee on the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014 and Enhancing Online Safety for Children (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2014

(This is an extract of the full submission. Please contact Families Australia to request a copy of the full version)

Summary

Cyber (Online) safety for children has been an ongoing focus of the National Framework with the Second Three-Year Action Plan, 2012-2015[1] including an action to develop and trial programs to prevent sexual abuse and keep children safe, including specific programs for remote Indigenous communities, such as the cyber smart outreach program.

Families Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment to Australia’s children through improving online safety and protecting them from cyberbullying.  Families Australia also notes and supports the submissions from members of the NGO Coalition to the consultation on the Discussion Paper on Enhancing Online Safety for Children (January 2014).  Families Australia supports the implementation of the Australian Government’s election commitment to enhance online safety for children through establishing a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner (Commissioner) to take a national leadership role in online safety for children, and implementing an effective complaints system, backed by legislation that will get harmful cyber-bullying material targeted at an Australian child down quickly from large social media sites.

Recommendations

  • While supporting the establishment of a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner, Families Australia would seek the Senate Committee’s consideration of recommending the placement of the role of this Commissioner within the Australian Human Rights Commission with the National Children’s Commissioner, or extending the role of the National Children’s Commissioner. We would view this as more efficient, effective and independent than the establishment of a new office within the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
  • The National Children’s Commissioner has a strong leadership role in implementing, promoting and educating about the Convention of the Rights of the Child. This Convention goes to the heart of protecting Australia’s children. The Human Rights Commission has also undertaken and participated in education and research in the areas of cyber-space and cyber-bullying. The Explanatory Memorandum clearly outlines the compatibility of the Bills with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.
  • The Human Rights Commission has a key role in educating in human and child rights and has produced resources and reports such as the BackMeUp: Don’t stand by, it could be you! Project. The National Children’s Commissioner is also experienced in seeking the input and views of children and young people.
  • As an overall comment, the Bills appear to address key areas. Families Australia notes the lack of focus on parents and their interests, rights and responsibilities. We would like to see this area addressed.

Families Australia requests the Senate Committee’s consideration of a recommendation that the 2018 formal evaluation of the new arrangements set out in the Bills include the views and voices of children and young people in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

[1] Retrieved from <dss.gov.au>

 

Download

Enhancing Online Safety for Children (January 2015)