Optus has teamed up with Kids Helpline to combat cyber safety with a new initiative under which education packs will be developed and distributed to over 10,000 primary and secondary schools nationally.
The initiative, Make Cyberspace a Better Place, will oversee the distribution of the packs targeted at years three to six, seven to nine and 10-12, with each containing information on cyberbullying, “sexting” and the safe use of technology. Each pack will contain two lessons each for age group including video case studies, detailed lesson plans, screen savers and posters.
Deputy Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, Alex Hawke MP, launched the campaign today at Oakhill College in Castle Hill, Sydney the first school nationally to adopt the new lesson plans.
“We must ensure that along with the enormous benefits available to young people through the online environment, there are also resources available about cyberbullying,” Hawke said in a statement.
“Young people are often first to embrace new technologies and trends in the online environment and appropriate information that helps them to remain safe is welcome.”
Kids Helpline general manager, Wendy Protheroe, said increased community concerns on the online safety of kids and younger people was the driving factor behind the project.
“Along with our partner Optus, we have developed lesson plans to help teachers educate students on how to make better, safer choices online and how to identify the signs of cyberbullying and to speak up if they experience it or witness it,” she said in a statement.
According to Protheroe, while the digital age offers a wealth of information and connectedness, Australian students must learn to avoid the dangers of its misuse.
“Young people who are cyberbullied reported negative effects on their self-confidence, self-esteem, friendships, school grades and attendance, and family relationships,” Protheroe said.
The organisation last year conducted almost 2400 counselling sessions where young people were worried about bullying or cyberbullying and harassment.
“While communications technology opens up a world of exciting possibilities, Optus is committed to preventing its misuse and ensuring young Australians stay cyber-safe,” Optus director of government and corporate affairs, Maha Krishnapillai, said.
“This cyber-safety education pack is just one way we can help ensure that young Australians connect and communicate responsibly.”
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has flagged plans for Australia to develop its own Cyber White Paper, which will cover areas including protection, cyber safety, cyber crime, cyber security and cyber defence.
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