‘I was pleased to be asked by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, in January of this year, to chair this important working group,’ Mr Fletcher said.
‘As a former telecommunications executive, I am a strong believer in the social and economic benefits which flow from the internet and communications technology.
‘As a dad, I am worried – like most parents I talk to – that our children have very rapidly become heavy users of this very powerful technology, and we haven’t given enough thought to how we best protect them against, and teach them to manage, the risks which they can be exposed to.
‘During 2012, my colleagues and I have carried out a very thorough process of community consultation. We have spoken with parents, teachers, industry representatives – and with lots of children, from 6 and 7 year olds right up to senior high school students.
‘We visited nearly twenty schools and held a range of community forums and meetings in every state and territory.
‘It’s very clear that children’s online safety is a major concern for parents and teachers. Kids have told us troubling stories about cyberbullying or seeing content that disturbed them.
‘In our paper we have suggested some ways that government could act – working with the internet and communications industry – to respond to the problems we heard about from so many people. We repeatedly heard that victims of harassment and bullying through social media simply did not know where to go or what to do to have serious bullying and harassing material removed. We also heard about the significant challenges which online safety presents to schools, parents and others caring for children.
‘What I hope our paper will do is stimulate discussion – and a process in which social media outlets and other internet companies can demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility in protecting children from harm’, Mr Fletcher concluded.