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Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee
07/03/2018
Adequacy of existing cyberbullying laws

BUHAGIAR, Dr Kerrie, Director of Service Delivery, ReachOut Australia

DAVIS, Mrs Liza, Director of Strategic Communications and Government Relations, ReachOut Australia

[11:49]

CHAIR: Thank you both for joining us today. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you both. We have your submission. You're invited now to make a short opening statement, after which we will invite members of the committee to ask questions. Which of you is giving an opening statement?

Mrs Davis : I'll do that.

CHAIR: Thank you, Mrs Davis.

Mrs Davis : Thank you for the invitation to ReachOut to appear and contribute to your deliberations on this important issue. Technology use has significant benefits. However, with these benefits has come risk, including to online safety. We are raised with the cliche, 'If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.' However, it seems that, when it comes to the internet and social media, all bets are off.

Cyberbullying has in many ways become a normalised activity and one where we don't see or understand many of the consequences. We also know that our online behaviour can cause real-world harm. Further, at a time when governments and society are saying they want to take a stronger stand on cyberbullying, and with a focus on young people, as adults we need to reflect on our own online behaviour. Will we hold ourselves to the same standards we're asking of our kids?

ReachOut is accessed by more than 1.58 million people each year. That's around 132,000 people each month, or 4,330 people every day. This month, ReachOut celebrates its 20th birthday. If you're in Sydney on 22 March, please join us to celebrate. At Reachout, we know that young people believe it is normal to live with a vast range of stresses, and we know that they often downplay serious issues and get through things on their own. The role of ReachOut has never been greater, as young people struggle to appear perfect in a world dominated by social media, while their inner thoughts and emotions are anything but.

At ReachOut, we provide immediate help and support to build awareness and inspire young people to take control of their lives. We know about the power of true stories to help young people feel connected and provide a sense of hope, optimism and positivity, no matter what today feels like. ReachOut is designed with young people. It's evidence based and anonymous and provides the opportunity to connect via online forums. It gives young people the control they seek to manage on their own. Further, our service is optimised for mobile devices, and we like to say we are putting help in the pockets of young people everywhere.

In 2016, we launched ReachOut Parents, which provides information, tools and resources to help parents support 12- to 18-year-olds in their family environment. It includes the added option of coaching for additional one-on-one online support.

In the past three years, ReachOut's bullying content has been viewed more than 470,000 times across its youth and parent services. As a frontline service, it was not surprising that we saw a spike in demand and increased traffic in January this year, following the tragic death of Amy 'Dolly' Everett.

Research we released in early 2017 showed that, of the 1,000 14- to 25-year-olds surveyed, 23 per cent had experienced bullying in the last 12 months. Many of the young people surveyed experienced bullying in multiple places—over half at school, followed by the workplace and online. Only half of the young people who were bullied sought help, and the majority turned to their parents and friends for support. The top reasons for not seeking support were stigma, embarrassment and fear of being seen as weak; feeling they could handle it on their own; and a perception that the problem wasn't serious enough to seek help.

ReachOut's chief executive officer, Jono Nicholas—who sends his apologies today and was disappointed not to be here—said at a recent Safer Internet Day event that teaching our kids about online safety is now just as important as teaching them about road safety. It's also fair to say that social media companies have created platforms that are unsafe. Just as we require car manufacturers to install safety features like seatbelts and airbags, we should expect more safety efforts from social media platforms.

We are a frontline service. We are helping young people and parents manage the distress as a result of cyberbullying, and we expect this to be a big part of our future workload. Clearly this is an issue of our time, and in our submission we called for a coordination of efforts. ReachOut is currently working on a cyberbullying community safety action plan that calls for work across five areas: increasing educational awareness about cyberbullying, including in schools; providing emotional support for those affected by cyberbullying; working with social media platforms to ensure they are as safe as possible; resourcing our regulator, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, to respond to complaints and exercise their civil penalties powers; and educating our community about criminal offences for cyberbullying, addressing any gaps and resourcing law enforcement to respond.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you both. Dr Buhagiar, do you have a statement as well?

Dr Buhagiar : No.

CHAIR: That's fine. In the submission you raise that bullying online has now become a normalised activity for young people and one where they don't see or understand many of the consequences. Can I ask you why that is?

Dr Buhagiar : I think the primary reason is the prevalence, because they see it happening all around them in their everyday lives, online and offline. So, it has I guess become perceived as a normal part of teenage behaviour. It's in the developmental stages of adolescent development. Young people are trying to forge their identity, and they are taking risks and pushing boundaries. So, there are a lot of those kinds of behaviours that are prevalent. And as you can see, as a result, half of the young people who identify as experiencing bullying don't go and seek help, because they don't think the problem is big enough.

CHAIR: In that context, if it was taken more seriously and young people were able to visibly see it being taken seriously, do you think that sense of it being normalised could be turned around?

Mrs Davis : I would speak strongly to that. I think there needs to be a situation where there are very clear consequences for behaviour online, and I think if young people understand that there's a consequence for those behaviours then that would help address issues. Sorry—I've forgotten my train of thought. Did you have anything?

Dr Buhagiar : I agree. I think the more we can do in that space the better. But I think it also needs to be wrapped around with other opportunities around ethical development of teenagers so that we can prevent the behaviour as well as look at the consequences.

CHAIR: So, you do think that the prevalence of it could be turned around if it was not seen as normalised behaviour. And to what extent do you think the major platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and many other kinds of platforms are being proactive in preventing this behaviour from being normalised? Or are they complicit with it?

Mrs Davis : We acknowledge that they have a range of policies and reporting mechanisms available to young people. However, we would also say that there's not a great amount of awareness amongst parents and young people about those options. The other elements that we think could be expanded include just how much those policies are in plain English, whether there are regular reminders to users of their platforms about what is and isn't appropriate behaviour online and what the consequences are for that, in engaging formats, so that as young people and adults use these platforms they're reminded about the rules and requirements of participating. We also have an online forum, and Kerrie might like to just explain a little bit about how we moderate—

CHAIR: Yes, you're clearly used to running moderated forums where you take care of these things. What's the difference between how you approach it and how you see other organisations approaching it?

Dr Buhagiar : In our online forums we have 7½ thousand young people who are registered as part of our forum, and they need to register in order to comment and participate. There are a number of things that we've put in place in order to ensure safety, and as a result we have a very positive and engaged community. We see very little bullying and very little unethical behaviour online. And it's important to know that the young people online don't know each other; they interact under a pseudonym. There are a number of things that we have in place. First of all, we have our community guidelines, which are written in plain English. Whenever somebody signs up to the forums they need to sign up to those guidelines, and we look for many opportunities to bring them to the forefront and we're re-emphasising the expectations of behaviour that young people need to demonstrate in the community.

The next thing, which is incredibly important, is that we have around 20 trained peer moderators, and their role is to model those behaviours around the community guidelines. They're living and breathing the behaviours that we want to see in our community, around positive engagement and positive interactions and support within the community. Often when people outstep the guidelines and perhaps inadvertently behave in a way that is out of line, they will then pull those people up and they will very quickly jump in to demonstrate the positive behaviours. As a result, we then see that cascading out to the community more broadly, so then young people are actually self-regulating that community. When there are interactions that are outside of the behaviours we want to see, they are calling each other up on that. That is a big part of how the safety of our community and positive behaviour is maintained.

Then the final thing we do is make sure across all of our posts we have reporting mechanisms and we also do keyword tracking. That is on a regular basis. So when those reports come in and are checked daily by staff we can respond very quickly and intervene with that behaviour as well. There are really three tiers that we put in place and when they are all working together it means that we have a very strong, positive community.

CHAIR: How resource-intensive is that work? I have some understanding of what your funding base is, but if we were to expect similar standards for media platforms operating with many millions of users how would we draw lessons from what you do into the mainstream?

Dr Buhagiar : It's a good point. We are working within a controlled environment and a relatively small community compared to global standards. The way we do it is that it is run as a volunteer program. So there are 20 young volunteers who we bring to it year to year and we train them up on the technical aspects of the role and teach them skills around boundaries and the extent of the role and self-care. Then we are able to give them ongoing support throughout that role with us. There are resource implications from that, but what we see is that by resourcing those 20 young people it cascades up very broadly in terms of the behaviours that you then see across the community. I know in some online platforms, for example, people have championed and advocated certain behaviours online. So there are precedents.

CHAIR: So you would encourage peer based activity to help drive cultural change?

Dr Buhagiar : I think it's actually more powerful than coming from staff. When we intervene and we try to ensure behaviours in most of the communicating it's around enforcement. It is at a time when young people are really resistant to adult intervention and being told what to do. So having that peer based model and those volunteers works very well. I would argue that it is actually stronger than if it were the staff who were stepping in to intervene.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: I just wanted to take you back to something you said in regards to Senator Pratt's line of questioning around consequence being important to deal with this problem. I'm aware that a lot of research shows that primarily within the age range, I believe, of 12 to 14 is when biologically kids' brains are developing and their ability to assess risk and understand things such as consequences is very much under development. So a consequence base would seem to be at odds with what the biology would tell us about the developmental stage of young people who are experiencing this in the highest numbers. Does what I am trying to say make sense?

Mrs Davis : Yes. In relation to my comments about consequences, I would put that in the context of the most serious and harmful behaviours. On a day-to-day basis the idea that we would criminalise the actions of children is a little bit concerning. One of the ways that we look at it is, as Kerrie said, is around the peer-to-peer model and also how we can safely encourage bystanders to speak up and call out that behaviour online.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: From the evidence that we have heard both today and previously, it is very clear that bullying occurs in a complex series of peer relationships which are constantly changing and evolving as kids mature. But in some sense the environment in which bullying occurs has always existed and will always exist. Where we as legislators have fallen down informing educators is helping kids, parents, teachers and the whole community have the right tool kit to help kids navigate these changing peer relationships. Would that be a statement you'd agree with?

Mrs Davis : Correct. We'd say that education and prevention are a huge part. It is essentially explaining to young people what is and is not acceptable online behaviour. We would also say there is a huge role for parents, and respected adults in a child's life, to model those behaviours so that you show that you are not behaving emotionally when something happens online, that you're not sharing inappropriate images. The behaviours of the parents are really important in modelling the expectations online, as well.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: And for them as well, I would imagine, to receive the training also, because if we are talking about the way that bullying is normalised it is also normalised by parents through an idea that it is part of a rite of passage, because that is the way they justified experiencing or perpetrating bullying when they themselves were young. So it is really important to take that whole-of-school, whole-of-community approach to education, as well, isn't it?

Dr Buhagiar : Absolutely. I would add to that that I think the consequences can be helpful. But, to your point, in terms of when you are thinking about children and young people it needs to be much more nuanced around the developmental stages. But I think we do need to look at it more broadly as a public health model and look at where schools fit and how families fit into that model, as well, because this problem is so multifaceted.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Absolutely. I asked the previous witnesses about the value of a duty of care placed upon social media providers. From your submission I get the idea that that would be something you would be supportive of.

Mrs Davis : In principle. In relation to what more can be done with social media platforms, it would just be really fantastic to get them to the party on this issue. It would be great, speaking to the principles of our organisation, to have that solution co-designed with young people and parents about how best they can take action. So, in principle, yes.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Finally, I will take you to resourcing. You made the point here for increased resourcing of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to deal with respondents, but also increases to frontline health services like yourselves and headspace and others. In the last couple of years has the funding for organisations like yours become more constrained, and what is the impact of that on your work? Also, have you got an idea of the level of increased support that would be useful from us as legislators to help you do your jobs?

Mrs Davis : From the ReachOut perspective we are resourced up to a limit. We are a scalable, low-cost service and that is to our advantage. We have noticed that access and the requirement for resources around this issue are increasing, and within our current resourcing there is only so much we can do. That is what I would say. I can't speak to Kids Helpline and headspace specifically, but I would expect that if they were to significantly ramp up their efforts in this area they would require additional support as well. We know there is a very large education piece that we are not able to execute at this point in time with parents and young people. We are certainly not resourced to do that.

In relation to the quantum of funding, we haven't put anything specifically down in writing, but we are happy to—

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Victoria, and I believe New South Wales, have signed up to the full rollout of the eSmart program, but if you're not in those states currently there is really no guarantee of specialised programs coming to your educational facility anytime soon.

Senator PATRICK: You mentioned keyword tracking as a tool that you use. How effective is that?

Dr Buhagiar : It is very effective, although it does tend to produce a lot of false positives as well, so it does require some manual work in terms of pulling out the true positives I guess. I would say it is a kind of a barrier that we put in place to make sure that we can capture more areas where there is risk emerging, but it is not fail-proof—

Senator PATRICK: When I'm typing in Microsoft Word, the technology seems to be sophisticated enough to pull me up on a grammar error, so it is contextualised. I can't help but wonder whether or not those sorts of technologies—particularly our previous witness when she gave some examples, it seemed really obvious to me that that would be easily detectable—some of the things that were being said about—

Dr Buhagiar : I think the technology is probably advanced enough to do it. I think some of the challenges, particularly when you're working with children and young people, are the nuances of the language they use—so when they're using certain words in certain contexts which might indicate risk in some situations, I think that's a flag for us. But then we need to look at the broader context of what those alerts are drawing us to.

Senator PATRICK: You were mentioning that the child gets this tool in their pocket. I wonder if you could have a technology—because the kids always outsmart the parents—at start-up to define the device as PG, M, MA15+ or something and have the onus on the operating system provider or the device provider, particularly with kids where it's a bit like when, after you get your password wrong three times, it disables the device. I imagine it would be painful for children to have their device disabled if they exceeded the G-rating. Are those sorts of ideas being explored?

Dr Buhagiar : I think it's a really interesting line of thought to start thinking about how we can automate some of this. One of the things that we hear is that parents who are raising the first generation of digital natives—and, as you pointed out, the children often know more about how safety settings on social media and those sorts of things that they do—

Senator PATRICK: I've got a media adviser, so I defer to her!

Dr Buhagiar : I think parents are crying out for help in terms of the sorts of strategies that they can use to work with their kids to create a safer environment. If we can actually utilise the technology to automate some of that, I think that it would be a great direction.

Senator PATRICK: I was connecting a few dots that you had presented, and thinking about what Maurice Blackburn said about duty of care and if you could impose it. In some sense, you're saying that you could actually solve some of this problem, if the duty of care was placed on a provider, using some of these grammar-checking keywords and a classification board-type approach. You could even have, like we do for movies and so forth, someone giving guidelines as to how to implement what is acceptable and what is not acceptable at different levels.

Dr Buhagiar : As Liza pointed out, we would absolutely advocate for social media platforms to work with the sector and co-design with young people and parents what the best solution would be.

Senator PATRICK: Thank you, Chair. I was just exploring some ideas there—they're fantastic.

CHAIR: That's very good!

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Thanks very much for your evidence today and for your submission, which was a very good submission. Can I find out a bit more about ReachOut? You have a very good reputation, but how do you operate? How are you funded?

Dr Buhagiar : We're funded through the Department of Health for our youth service—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: The federal Department of Health?

Dr Buhagiar : The federal Department of Health, yes—and we're a prevention and early intervention online service. That means we're focusing very much on the upstream parts of mental health distress and when people are experiencing problems, and we work in partnership with sector partners to refer young people who need additional support on to places like headspace and Kids Helpline. I think an important thing to point out is all of our programs are co-designed with our service users—so young people are involved in the design and the delivery of our programs. What that means is we can design our services in ways that are meaningful for them. We're not just talking about things like depression, anxiety and self-harm; we're talking about the precursors of mental health issues like bullying, relationship breakdowns, friendships and things like that—

Mrs Davis : Exam stress.

Dr Buhagiar : and exam stress. So young people are coming to us at those very early stages and we can then give them the tools and the information to help them cope better with the distress that they're going through, or refer them on to downstream services if required.

As Liza pointed out, we also, two years ago now, launched our parent service. That was to fill a gap because there are not a lot of programs out there for parents of adolescent children—there's a lot more support in the early stages. The questions that parents had around it were: 'How do I support my child better?'; 'Is this behaviour normal?'; 'Should I be worried?'; 'What should I do?' So that program is very much focused around not just information on parents and that idea of psychoeducation; we try and go beyond information to give them tools and really practical strategies that they can put in place.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Are you staffed with child psychologists?

Dr Buhagiar : More in the youth space. We don't offer clinical services, counselling or therapy to young people. We refer on to downstream organisations to do that. Youth worker/social worker is more the specific—

Mrs Davis : One of the ways we've described ourselves is as a gateway service. So, essentially, people come to our service—young people, around 50 per cent—in very high distress. We provide a range of information to help them understand that what they are experiencing is okay and normal, and that they can relate to. That includes immediate things that they can do right now to try to get control of the level of distress they're in, and then it also suggests, if they need additional support, how to get that support and what it will look like when they get there. Then we have the peer to peer forums, so they can chat with other young people who might be going through the same experience as them. So, once they get to a content piece, that's all in the one area, including snippets of conversations from the forums that they might like to be pulled into.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: As I recall, I think you started in the time of the Howard government. I think Michael Wooldridge might've been health minister at the time.

Mrs Davis : In 1997-98, yes.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Have you noticed—or perhaps you haven't been there that long—if there has been a change in focus in ReachOut since, effectively, 20 years ago? Have you seen the impacts of mass young persons' use of the social media? Has that changed your focus at all?

Mrs Davis : We started off very much around a mental health service and content, and where we're taking ReachOut now is very much around the everyday issues. That's because we hear from young people that they have this strong preference to get through things on their own and that they don't like to think of themselves as having a mental health issue, so they actually recoil from the use of language around that. So to actually attract young people early and to pull them into our service, we're changing out of using the language of mental health, which is why we're talking around the various issues in their lives, to bring them in. We're certainly changing the way we communicate with young people. We're seeing a lot more young people in distress, and that is about the way that relationships and friendships now are conducted online and some of the distress as a result of that. The other issue we focus on is something called 'curated perfection'—this idea of yourself that you present online and the image that you want people to think of, of you, which very much contrasts with your personal experience of inner turmoil—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I know about that. I always try to get a really good photo of me to put online so that I look young and intelligent! It doesn't always work!

Senator PATRICK: That's time consuming!

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It is time consuming to get the right photo—you're right! You're clearly in the right space to view all this, and I hear your submission and heard your previous evidence. But is there something that you think the government could do—aside from giving you additional funding, which I'm sure you would say. Is there any silver bullet to fix some of the problems we are experiencing, particularly with cyberbullying and particularly with young children these days?

Senator STEELE-JOHN: 'Just give us a free silver bullet!'

Mrs Davis : Well, as I said in the introductory statement, I don't think there is a silver bullet. I think it does require coordinated efforts across: education; helping young people in distress; social media platforms—what more can they do—our regulator and law enforcement. So I think it all needs to be coordinated and work together.

Dr Buhagiar : Unfortunately it's a very complex problem and challenge, and I liked Liza's point. I do think, as a result, it does need a coordinated approach. I wish there was just one thing that we could do but unfortunately I don't think we have that answer.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Are you funded in a triennium?

Mrs Davis : It varies, actually. We had a period of 12-month rollovers within Health, which has now had a two-year rollover. So we get about $1.5 million or $1.6 million from Health, around $2.3 million from Department of Social Services, and the rest is private philanthropy and corporate partnerships, adding up to around $8 million in total.

CHAIR: As to the terms of reference, your submission has focused on (d) and (e); however, one of our terms of reference is around where victims of cyberbullying have self-harmed. That particular term of reference also looks to penalties and the like. I want to ask you about how, in your experience—because you've dealt with victims of cyberbullying—you track back as to the sources of that bullying and its impact and how transparent and traceable that is, particularly noting that you've said that many young people don't disclose their experiences.

Dr Buhagiar : The place where that is most apparent for us is within our online peer support forum, because we don't deal individually with people, so all of our services are anonymous, and we don't necessarily know their full case history. However, when they are participating in the forums, they may disclose their circumstances, their history of cyberbullying and things like that. Then we would intervene and ascertain the level of stress that they're under so that we can then respond appropriately by offering them additional support. That goes right through to escalating through to emergency services if there is a risk of them taking their own life, right through to ongoing support while we're setting up referrals to Suicide Call Back Service and other agencies as well. We're fairly unique in that we don't necessarily have a full case history with the body, but we do have protocols in place so that, if young people do disclose those examples of cyberbullying and are very distressed about it, we can respond appropriately.

CHAIR: How do you characterise the link between cyberbullying and those mental health impacts? We've had some evidence which essentially has said to us that cyberbullying doesn't cause suicide; there has to be some other underlying mental health issue. But it's very clear to me that cyberbullying causes high levels of distress which can inform self-harming behaviours. Perhaps the link is that some people have more protective factors, and for them that is not as strong a link. I'm just trying to unpick that evidence, because some people have been very careful to say that cyberbullying sits almost separately from mental health issues, whereas to my mind it's very clear that there can be a causal link. How do you unpick that yourselves?

Dr Buhagiar : The research that we've done with young people would suggest that cyberbullying actually is very closely linked to increased distress, and that can reveal itself in many different ways, around social isolation and around their mood. There are a whole range of issues that young people have identified as a result of cyberbullying, which then link to high levels of distress. I think we know that there's a link between high levels of distress and suicide. Whether you can always necessarily draw that direct line is, I think, a question to be asked. But I think that what we want to focus on is that cyberbullying as a behaviour does increase distress. We know that distress is linked to suicide.

CHAIR: Yes. From that, can you explain that that level of distress, and therefore the self-harming behaviour, would not exist without the bullying, in the main?

Dr Buhagiar : I think it's very nuanced, depending on the situation and the circumstances. There are so many other complicating factors around, as you've pointed out: protective factors and other things that young people have in their lives. If you're asking me whether reducing or preventing cyberbullying is positive in terms of mental health outcomes and distress, I would say, 'Definitely.'

CHAIR: Good.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Can I ask a follow-on to that, because I'm equally interested in the nature of this relationship. My understanding of the evidence that we've heard so far is quite similar to Senator Pratt's, inasmuch as cyberbullying contributes to distress, and distress can be a factor in self-harming or suicide.

What is less clear to me and what I am still trying to pick through is this. We've heard that around the issue of child suicide there are a number of complex, multifaceted elements which form part of the reason why a child takes these steps of action and that those other influencing factors then affect the way the child receives the distress created by cyberbullying and then how they act upon that. That's what makes it difficult to draw a straight line from cyberbullying to self-harm or suicide. Am I reasonably on the right track, not having a professional background in this?

Dr Buhagiar : I think you've actually described it very well. We know that there is a link between A and B and between B and C, but to then directly draw a link from A to C is not always as straightforward as we would like. We also know that with young people it is very complex. Some of the protective and risk factors will be intrinsic. That is in terms of what intrinsic strength and skills they have themselves. There are also the environmental factors. It is too complex to draw—

Senator STEELE-JOHN: There is very little research that we have on this. I think it's an area where we could do with more research, like so many other areas. But you have that figure that young people don't often disclose but, when they do, they disclose to their parents. I've always been led to think that so much of this conversation is about how we educate kids, but actually there needs to be a real focus on how we educate parents to receive the information that bullying is occurring and then to act on it in a way that is appropriate and beneficial to the child.

Dr Buhagiar : We would completely agree. We would also say from our research with parents that they are asking for that support. We have a whole range of resources on our site contextualising cyberbullying in the experience of a young person and also strategies that the young person can put in place around how to manage and deal with cyberbullying. We have resources for parents with children who are experiencing bullying but also resources for parents where maybe their child has been identified as the bully. That is not often a thing that's talked about.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: By both the victim and the bully.

Dr Buhagiar : Yes. It can be very challenging for parents to know what to do in those situations as well when it is their child who is being perceived as exhibiting bullying behaviours.

Mrs Davis : And the bully and the bullied are not necessarily separate people. They can be one and the same.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: I have found that too. They inhabit both roles, which makes it even more challenging to deal with. I have observed that it would make it almost impossible to deal with through a civil or criminal framework. How do you prosecute somebody who is both the victim and the perpetrator simultaneously of the same crime or misdemeanour?

Mrs Davis : Correct.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Thank you so much for your time.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I think I recall that you got a bit of extra funding earlier this year—

Mrs Davis : Yes, in January. We received $350,000.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: from the health department.

Mrs Davis : Yes.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: What was that for? Was that particularly related to cyberactivity?

Mrs Davis : It was to respond to an increase in service demand which we experienced during the marriage equality postal survey. We had a 40 per cent increase in demand, and we had to then deploy a range of strategies to communicate with young people about how to manage distress. We required increased moderation of our forums. Then we pushed out further resources to support that group of young people during that time.

CHAIR: Thank you both for your evidence today. It's been extremely helpful to the committee.

Pr oceedings suspended from 12:28 to 13 : 36