The Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, has called on parents to play a greater role in managing the safety issues related to social networking and other online activities.
Speaking in Victoria at the launch of the Rudd Government’s ThinkuKnow online safety advisory website, O’Conner said parents and children needed to have a “proper conversation” at home about the potential dangers of online activity.
“They should be engaging with them, discussing with them what is occurring so that if a child feels in any way uncomfortable about what might be going on in a chat room or is suspicious about certain behaviour or has received inappropriate material online they will go to their parent and discuss that with them,” O’Conner said.
Despite the launch of the new site, and other awareness-raising initiatives as part National Cyber Security Awareness Week, a mandatory ISP-level filter would still be necessary to protect children online, O’Conner claimed.
“We need a combination of protections for our community,” he said. “What we do know in relation to the filter, is that the filter would only look at the most limited information being refused, which is already refused by the Censorship Review Board now. So in other words, we’re not looking at restricting much information at all.
“[The ThinkuKnow initiative] is about the way in which certain people choose to prey upon children. That’s not filtering. This is about where people will use chat rooms and the anonymity of the Internet to procure and groom children or young people.
“We need a better relationship between parents and their children in order for children to raise concerns with them. Parents have to understand that things are going on in the virtual world and they should become more aware of those activities. The best way is to build that trust and that relationship with their kids.”
The comments follow an announcement from Labor Senator Kate Lundy that she intended to push the Federal Government to consider adopting an opt-in version of its proposed mandatory ISP-level Internet filter.
“I have spoken before about the two key amendments I am advocating, ie: a) protect in legislation the availability of an unfiltered, open Internet service, and b) require all Internet subscribers to make an active choice as to whether they want an unfiltered, RC filtered or additionally filtered Internet service (with the latter being personally customisable at any time),” she wrote in a blog post.
“Most people have been quite supportive of this approach, but there has been some contention about the second proposed amendment in regards to what the default option should be, should a user not actively select any option. Aka, whether it should be opt-in or opt-out.”