Teens and young adults encouraged to have their say in creating safer online world for future

eSafety Commissioner

As we hurtle towards the metaverse, haptic suits and virtual reality, it’s younger people of now who will be living in this brave new digital world, so eSafety is asking them to help shape our online safety policy for the future.

“Younger people are already living a lot more of their life in the online world. Now, we want them to share their opinions and experiences of online safety, and their views on how to make the internet safer and more inclusive,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

eSafety is establishing an Online Safety Youth Advisory Council for young people aged 13 to 24 years, which will give a voice to young people about online safety policy.

The group will provide advice to Government about issues that young people experience online and explore ways of supporting them to have positive online experiences.

The Online Safety Youth Advisory Council was announced by the Prime Minister in December 2021.

“Young people today have been living more of their lives in an online environment than ever before. We want them to have their say about their experiences to help shape online safety policy, and to help future-proof our digital spaces. These members of our new Online Safety Youth Advisory Council will be the ones to help us do just that,” said Ms Inman Grant.

Minister for Communications, Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, said: “Young people are enthusiastic users of social media, but they also confront particular risks in the online world. It is vital that their experiences and perspectives are understood and can inform the approach we are taking to making the internet safer for Australians.”

eSafety will welcome applications from young people with a diverse range of experiences, and from a wide range of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, young LGBTIQA+ people, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and young people from both rural, remote and urban areas.

“Every young person will have had experiences online and something to contribute to ideas for improvement. We want to hear from not just the loudest voices, but those who also value quieter ways of showing thought-leadership and proactively supporting friends and family in online spaces,” said Ms Inman Grant.

“As a member of the Online Safety Youth Advisory Council, you will also be co-designing and developing online safety resources that will help maximise the benefits of being online and minimise the potential harms for you and your friends.”

Western Sydney University’s Prof. Amanda Third, who led the study that engaged young people in designing how the Youth Advisory Council will operate, said: “Young people were very clear that they want to be involved in Australia’s efforts to promote online safety.

“They have enormous wisdom and creative ideas about how to make sure children and young people can stay safe online while also having maximum fun and getting the most out of using technology.

“Involving them closely in shaping the agenda, and designing and evaluating youth-centred initiatives, is a potential game changer for youth online safety in Australia. They might even transform how we do online safety for adults!”

Applications are now open for young people across Australia aged 13-24 to apply to the Youth Advisory Council. Applications will close 4pm on 14 March 2022.

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