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Tony Abbott to establish Online Safety Working Group

Group is offering help for parents, teachers and young people to deal with internet risks

The Coalition has announced plans for an Online Safety Working Group designed to assist parents and teachers in protecting young people from the risks associated with the internet and social media.

The Coalition will consult with technology, education and cyber safety representatives, to develop its online safety policy in the areas of education, regulation and enforcement.

Federal opposition leader, Tony Abbott, said in a statement that approximately 2.2 million Australian children actively engage via the internet and are vulnerable to its risks.

“In a relatively short period of time, the internet has transformed our way of life. However, there are also risks, and children are particularly vulnerable,” he said. “These risks include children being exposed to illegal or inappropriate content and the increasing use of social media as a forum for online bullying.”

Abbott added that the Coalition do not seek to repeat Labor’s “ham-fisted attempt” to put a filter on the internet or to hinder the dynamic nature of the online environment. Abbott was referring to the Federal Government’s proposed mandatory Internet Service Provider (ISP) filter which attracted criticism from the IT industry during 2011. “This is about protecting cyber privacy. It’s not about trying to enforce cyber censorship,” he said.

The Group will be chaired by the Member for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher, who will be joined by Australian Capital Territory Senator ,Gary Humphries, Mitchell representative, Alex Hawke, Solomon representative ,Natasha Griggs, Longman representative, Wyatt Roy, Barker representative, Patrick Secker, Tasmania Senator, Stephen Parry, Victoria Senator ,Bridget McKenzie, and member for Cowan, Luke Simpkins.

Abbott added that the Group will work closely with Shadow Ministers who are responsible for online safety, in particular, education and communications.

During 2012, it will hold roundtables and community forums across Australia.

Terms of reference for the Group are available on Abbott’s website.

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