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Monday, 19 August 2002
Page: 4976


Ms Burke asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 28 May 2002:

(1) What forms of advertising and promotion has net alert undertaken in (a) 2000-2001 and (b) 2001-2002.

(2) What was the cost of this advertising and or promotion.

(3) What forms of advertising or promotion is net alert planning in 2002-2003.

(4) What is the budgeted cost of this advertising or promotion.

(5) How many hits has the net alert website received in (a)2000-2001 and (b) 2001-2002.

(6) How many downloads have been recorded in relation to information on filters.

(7) What plans or initiatives does the Minister have to increase usage of the net alert website.

(8) What plans and initiatives does the Minister have to increase the dissemination of filters.


Mr McGauran (Minister for Science) —The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Under the Online Content Co-Regulatory Scheme, NetAlert has undertaken a range of promotional and advertising activities including:

(a) for the period 2000-2001

· The design and implementation of a website (www.netalert.net.au) to provide information for parents and children on safe Internet use. The website was launched on 1 July 2000 and received 421 996 hits during this period.

· The design and implementation of a national toll-free Help Line and email advisory service to provide easily accessible information on how people can manage their access to the Internet. The Help Line commenced on 6 September 2000.

· The development and distribution of an information kit for Help Line callers, including fact sheets on various Internet issues. The information kit was also distributed to schools and community organisations, and through retail chains and computer stores, during the period.

· Appointing Ms Noni Hazlehurst as the NetAlert Ambassador to promote NetAlert's `safe surfing' message. Ms Hazlehurst appeared at NetAlert events and presented a series of community service announcements and `advertorials' in broadcast and print media.

· Building linkages with community organisations such as schools, libraries and parents' organisations.

· Organising and conducting an Industry Liaison Seminar Series in metropolitan and regional centres throughout Australia, advising Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet content hosts (ICHs) of their obligations under the Scheme.

· Developing and publishing an information manual and accompanying CD-Rom for the Industry Liaison Seminar Series, and distributing the manual to ISPs and ICHs unable to attend the seminars.

(b) for the period 2001-2002

· Redesigning the NetAlert website, including expanding the content and providing relevant information for specific age groups. At 3 June 2002, the NetAlert website had received 1 106 085 hits during this period.*

· Refining the operation of the Help Line, including producing and updating a manual for the Help Line operators, setting out recent changes in the Internet industry and providing talking points for common queries.

· Continued distribution of the NetAlert information pack, including the completion of a major distribution campaign to schools throughout Australia.

· Continued promotion of NetAlert through the activities of the NetAlert Ambassador, including presenting advertisements and conducting on-air discussions with School of Distance Education participants.

· Continuing to build and foster linkages with community groups, including giving presentations at meetings and responding to requests for information for community and school newsletters, parent magazines and other publications.

· Completing the industry liaison project to inform ISPs and ICHs of their obligations under the Online Content Co-Regulatory Scheme. The two-hour seminars were presented at 27 metropolitan and regional centres.

· Conducting a series of Regional Forums across Australia to promote awareness of NetAlert in regional areas and identify Internet issues of concern to parents and students in these areas: Toowoomba and Townsville, Queensland; Dubbo, New South Wales; Gippsland, Victoria; Launceston, Tasmania; and Berri, South Australia.

· Sponsoring the inaugural NetAlert Gippsland Multimedia Festival.

· Launching with the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) the results of a study into the effectiveness, from a user's perspective, of Internet content filtering software.

Detailed information on the performance of these functions is set out in reports tabled by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts on 5 September 2000, 19 April 2001 and 13 February 2002.

(2) (a) for the period 2000-2001 $1 372 954*

(b) for the period 2001-2002 $638 807*

With the appointment of an Executive Director to NetAlert in August 2002, several of the existing advertising and promotional activities were deferred due to the development of a strategic plan for NetAlert.

(3) The NetAlert strategic plan for 2002-2003 includes the following advertising and promotional activities:

· Community events across Australia to provide parents and children with information on how to manage their Internet access. A public relations campaign will support the community events.

· A conference scheduled for Canberra with international and Australian speakers.

· Further promotion of NetAlert's safe surfing message to Australian families through a range of media.

· Further targeting of the information on the NetAlert website to community needs.

(4) NetAlert is scheduled to receive $500 000 in Government funds for the 2002-03 financial year. In addition, NetAlert has the ability to seek private sponsorship and may carry over funding from 2001-02.

(5) (a) 421 996*

(b) As of 3 June 2002, 1 106 085*

(6) On 26 March 2002, NetAlert and the ABA released the jointly commissioned CSIRO report into the effectiveness, from a user's point of view, of Internet content filtering software. As of 3 June 2002, the report has been downloaded over 20 000 times from the NetAlert and ABA websites.

In addition, the NetAlert and ABA websites provide information about managing Internet access, including about Internet content filters.

(7) NetAlert is an independent company established by the Commonwealth in December 1999. Operational matters such as initiatives or plans to increase the usage of the NetAlert website are the direct responsibility of the NetAlert Board. To this end, initiatives designed to raise NetAlert's profile and increase usage of the NetAlert website are outlined in response to question 3 above.

(8) Schedule 5 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 requires that the Internet industry codes of practice include procedures directed at requiring ISPs to provide subscribers with the option of subscribing to a filtered Internet content service.

On 10 May 2002, the ABA registered revised Internet industry content codes of practice. Content Code 2 was modified to replace the provision allowing ISPs to determine the fee for Internet content filtering services with a requirements that ISPs provide filtering services to subscribers on a cost-recovery basis.

On 26 March 2002, NetAlert and the ABA released a jointly commissioned report into the general effectiveness of existing filtering software. The report, undertaken by CSIRO and entitled “Effectiveness of Internet Filtering Software products”, examined fourteen software products. The report found that the performance of filters may vary substantially, with a key determinant of effectiveness being the type of blocking methodology used by the product. Coupled with the existing community education activities of NetAlert and ABA, the report will assist families to choose the appropriate filtering product or service for their particular needs.

* This information has been provided by NetAlert