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Cybersafety issues affecting children and young people

CHAIR (Senator Wortley) —I now declare open this public hearing of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety. The committee members have introduced themselves for the benefit of the webcast. On behalf of the committee we express our thanks to the witnesses for being available today. Thank you for participating in the inquiry. Before proceeding I would like to remind you that this is a public hearing and is being recorded by Hansard and audio broadcast. Do you wish to make any introductory remarks before you proceed with questions?

Ms Banks —The Department of Education in Tasmania has been a proactive educator with regard to responsible ICT use for over 10 years now. The Department of Education in Tasmania has student and staff ICT acceptable-use guidelines that are constantly updated to cater for changing technologies. The department in Tasmania leverages off the work of other states in developing its cybereducation resources. For example, a lot of the department’s resources on the DoE public website are used under agreement with the Victorian Department of Education.

The Department of Education in Tasmania’s schools uses a variety of outreach services in the cybereducation area, ACMA, et cetera, to support the local school work undertaken. The Department of Education’s Tasmanian schools take a whole-school community approach—that is teachers, students, parents and carers—to cybereducation, running out-of-hours information sessions for parents and friends, other parent groups, school associations, et cetera.

The Department of Education in Tasmania is a proactive supporter of schools using the latest technologies, including YouTube, Facebook et cetera, and as part of this educating students in the responsible use of these tools to prepare them for life in the 21st century.

CHAIR —Before we proceed I would just like to inform you that although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath I need to advise you that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and it warrants the same respect as proceedings of the House and the Senate. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and it may be regarded as a contempt of parliament. At the conclusion of the evidence, if there any questions that Hansard has for you by way of clarification, could you make yourself available?

Would you be able to just expand for us for the Hansard record here and for those listening on audio broadcast some of the things that are happening with the education department of Tasmania in relation to the issue of cybersafety?

Mr Hill —I suppose at the moment schools through the development of their school ICT plan—so each school develops a local ICT plan that caters for their local requirements. Part of that is developing leadership in regard to the use of ICT within the school. As was outlined, part of that is how they actually engage the wider school community, because it is fine to engage teachers and students within the school hours but what we need to do is actually broaden that to include parents, friends and others so that people understand that responsible ICT use actually happens across a day, not just confined to the school.

Schools do that in a variety of ways. They utilise the resources within our learning management system. The minister recently announced a swag of new additional resources that are going to be available for schools to use. They make use of services provided by various government agencies, be it the Communications Management Authority, the digital department of broadband and so on. Basically, as I say, the schools contextualise for their age of students and their use of technology within the schools. Some schools allow students to bring their own devices to school, so they have a higher visibility around responsible use because they really are trying to say: the way you use it at home is the way you should be using it at school and vice versa. So it is really is contextualised towards local schools.

Schools within their local clusters, which might be anywhere between five and 10 schools, then share experiences during professional learning days. They take resources from one school to the other. There is quite a bit of sharing that actually happens across the system.

CHAIR —We have heard evidence from a number of schools and education departments with regard to students needing to complete a conditions of use form before they actually use computers at school. Do you have such a thing in Tasmania?

Mr Hill —Yes, we have one that is particular for primary school students. Its language is all tailored towards what would be understood by a primary school student. Then we have one which is directed towards high school students.

CHAIR —Does every student in the school, before they use a computer, need to sign off on one of those?

Mr Hill —Yes. It is a three-way partnership, so it is the student, the parent and the teacher.

CHAIR —Does the parent need to sign off as well?

Mr Hill —Yes.

CHAIR —We have heard evidence regarding parents’ knowledge, or the importance of parents having an understanding of the issues regarding cybersafety. Does that form any part of the department’s schools program?

Mr Hill —Yes, as we mentioned we use some of the outreach programs for instance from ACMA to actually engage in broadening parents’ knowledge around the use of ICT. Students only spend six hours a day at a school, so therefore there is quite a lot that happens outside of the school place with regard to ICT. So making sure the parents are aware that having students having their computers locked in their bedrooms and things like that is not a responsible way to go. It is better to have it in a visible, public area and so on within the house.

Ms Banks —In local contexts you will see examples of principals and ICT specialists within schools taking really deliberate steps to support parents to help their children be better users of ICT. For example just two weeks ago I was at a meeting where the principal had to leave early to take some parents for a class, if you like, before the students were allowed to take home the iPads that the school had bought for them. It is about parent education to help the student.

CHAIR —That is a good point. Would there be any benefit in requiring parents to undergo perhaps a one-hour or two-hour session at the point where they are signing off on the condition of use for the students?

Mr Hill —Certainly a lot of the schools, as I say, run information sessions through parents and friends or school associations and parents come along to that. They then supplement that with local classroom based information sessions where the teacher explains the way they are going to use ICT within the school so the parents get some context around actually how it is used and then the teacher gives some guidance to the parents as to how it can be supported away from the school so the student actually gets maximum education around that.

Senator BARNETT —Through the use of a laptop?

CHAIR —Just one moment. We have had some evidence provided advising that the view would be that parents should actually be required to sign off on the conditions of use and that before doing that they would need to complete their session at the school. It would be a reverse situation. Instead of parents putting pressure onto the children to do something, it would be the children putting pressure onto the parents to do it so that they could get access. How do you feel about that?

Mr Hill —We certainly follow that in a non-mandatory way. We certainly do not mandate that the parent actually has to be engaged in information sessions. We certainly try to use the fact that it is best for them. It should always be a three-way partnership to do with any part of schooling, not just to do with ICT. We certainly ask the parents, as part of policies for both primary and secondary school, to sign the forms.

CHAIR —On that point again, it is often said that the parents that turn up for parent-teacher interviews may not necessarily be the ones you need to speak to. Given that that would translate perhaps to the issue of sessions on cybersafety, how would you engage the parents who perhaps need to be there to encourage them to be there?

Ms Banks —I think your point a minute ago is really pertinent—that you create a need, so if the child wants the parent to be there they are more likely to come along and in that way you can reach out to some of those parents who would be most at risk in terms of not being able to support their child through acceptable use of technologies. That is the same pattern across a range of issues within education, which links back to the point that Mr Hill made a moment ago which is that being inclusive and supportive to help parents rather than just a big stick or mandating approach is the way to go.

The other comment that I have that I think is important is that one-offs do not work, so the learning for parents and the opportunities have to be regular, they have got to be spaced and they have got to be purposeful. The parents are more likely to engage with their school or their child’s teacher and indeed the child’s learning if they can see a role for themselves. It is really important that the approach is one of partnering, not one of being the expert.

Mr Hill —Three years ago, when Tasmania redid our curriculum framework, we actually engaged ICT as being a core skill across all curricular areas. So we do not turn around and say we will only use and learn about ICT within an ICT class. It is when you are doing English, history, science, maths you actually engage in ICT, and it is an important skill that all teachers need to build within their curricular and pedagogy delivery.

Senator BARNETT —I would like to ask a few questions around this conditions of use. In terms of the conditions of use, what is the take-up rate? Do you get every parent to sign it or are there cases where they do not sign it? What happens to the student in that case?

Mr Hill —I would not have visibility around what happens with the local school, apart from when I actually go out and speak to principals and senior staff around their ICT plans, but I would say that it would be in the 95-plus per cent where they actually return it. They use a variety of mechanisms in engaging the parents. It is not just a matter of: we need it back by such and such. They do follow-up, not just around ICT but around all the learning areas to do with the student. They use opportunities like when they have meetings with the parents around other things that may be happening in the student’s life, particularly those who are potentially disengaged, so it is certainly not 100 per cent.

Senator BARNETT —Exactly. That is what I am trying to work out. What happens in that case? Can the child use ICT at the school? I do not know if you have a policy in that regard. What does actually happen?

Mr Hill —In that case, as I say, the teacher and the principal would actually make contact with the parents, but I suppose we live in a real world where you are trying to get 100 per cent—

Senator BARNETT —The real world is where we cannot get 100 per cent. I do not know; the child presumably does use the ICT—

Ms Banks —There is supervised use where children are more and more allowed and encouraged to take devices home and there is unsupervised use, and that is where we put in restrictions around—

Senator BARNETT —Do you have a policy in that regard, or does each school have a different policy?

Mr Hill —The guidelines are a standard set. Schools can contextualise that provided they include all the bits that are in the base policy.

Senator BARNETT —Do you have the guidelines?

Mr Hill —They are on the public website.

Senator BARNETT —Are they guidelines drafted by the education department for the schools?

Mr Hill —Correct. So we updated the high school policy last year and the updating was actually constructed by a senior teacher within the school and a principal and they fed the information back to us. The primary school one was updated at the beginning of this year and the same process happened where a teacher and a principal were the ones who actually modified the document and we made sure that it was right.

Senator BARNETT —It says in each case that before the child uses the ICT the parent must sign the conditions of use.

Mr Hill —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —That makes sense. I am just concerned about what happens to that five per cent or thereabouts. Do you have special codes and guidelines on cyberbullying and cybersafety in schools or is that all under the one—

Mr Hill —It is under the one and we cover off a variety of technologies, be it MP3s, iPods, iPhones—

Senator BARNETT —Use of mobiles at school and all that sort of thing?

Mr Hill —Correct.

Senator BARNETT —Is that all on your website? What is the document called?

Mr Hill —It is under the safe web part of the schools area. We can send you the link.

Senator BARNETT —Thanks for doing that. Pursuing that a little further, in terms of schools and what the kids can and cannot see on computers in their schools—I know there is a filtering system—can you tell us the filtering system you use in Tasmania and what terms and conditions apply to that filtering?

Mr Hill —We use a service provided locally through Telstra through the network in Tasmania contract. It is a bit of software from McAfee called Web Gateway. It basically works on a two-scenario basis, one is around categories. By default there are 98 different categories. From memory we block about 25 of those by default. So if the web page is classified through a long process by the vendor then it will get blocked if it is to do with, say, porn for example. In addition to that we then have the ability to block individual URLs and such, so because the web is obviously a constantly, daily changing process it might take two to three days for a new web page or site to be categorised—

Senator BARNETT —So it is not foolproof.

Mr Hill —It is foolproof from the point of view of the processes are in places to make sure that if certain things meet certain rules then it gets categorised into a certain area—

Senator BARNETT —But it might take a couple of days before it gets—

Mr Hill —So we have the ability to block things in addition to that, which is what we do either through ones that we find ourselves or ones that schools notify us of. The other good thing about the software is that it enables a local school to make local decisions. By default we allow all Web 2.0 technologies like YouTube, Facebook and such into our schools. We do not allow primary school students to access Facebook because there is an age restriction; you have to be 13 years and over. But what we do allow is a school to make a local decision. If a high school decides they do not want to have Facebook then they can block Facebook at the local school.

Senator BARNETT —Presumably your primary schools block Facebook.

Mr Hill —We allow Facebook and we certainly allow—

Senator BARNETT —In primary school.

Mr Hill —We allow Facebook in primary school through a teacher moderated scenario. One of the things we are very keen on is to educate students in responsible use. A class may have a Facebook page which is around a particular topic. They may be following an area to do with, say, wombats and so they may create a wombat page. They may link it to, say, the Sydney zoo’s Facebook page and therefore actually exchange information. It is all done through a teacher moderated account so the teacher is the one who is using the page. They are educating the students around—

Senator BARNETT —Can the students use the Facebook?

Mr Hill —No.

Senator BARNETT —Because under 13 it is illegal.

Mr Hill —That is right.

Mr ZAPPIA —I have two questions. First, could you in general advise us as to whether cyberbullying is widespread throughout the schools; if so, is there a difference between primary and high schools? Secondly, are there many cases of cyberbullying against teachers themselves?

Mr Hill —We get very few issues coming our way which are escalated from a school around inappropriate use of technology. There certainly are the odd instances but most of that is actually contained at the local school. In other words, when I say we get very few to us, because we manage the web filtering and the web gateway, we get requests from schools sometimes to block particular YouTube sites and things like that. But I will be honest; I think last year we had something like 18 events during the entire calendar year. So, considering the number of devices that are out there, it is an extremely low—

Senator BARNETT —Primary school or secondary school?

Mr Hill —I would have to take that on notice. I could give you a breakdown of what that was, but I am pretty sure it was more to do with high school. But, as I say, it was a very low number.

Mr ZAPPIA —What about teachers? Are you aware of any cases against teachers?

Mr Hill —Once again, the RateMyTeachers site has come up a couple of times where teachers have felt aggrieved. We provide guidance to schools around anything where they believe they are aggrieved around being proactive in contacting the person who has constructed the site and, in the worst case, the provider of the site, be it Facebook or YouTube and such.

Mr ZAPPIA —Does the department have a tracking or monitoring system to try to keep an overview of what is occurring in the schools?

Mr Hill —We run some fairly detailed daily reports of the local school. So the local principal and ICT lead within the school can basically access information around the students’ use to do with what they did yesterday or what they did a week ago.

Mr ZAPPIA —I am referring perhaps to the complaints—more so the complaints.

Mr Hill —I actually have to report to an internal committee once a quarter around ICT events, out of not just what happened within the schools but what happened within libraries and such. They range from inappropriate use to technology being damaged. That is why I roughly know what the figures are.

Mr ZAPPIA —Is it possible to get those figures to the committee?

Mr Hill —I will just need to take on notice as to whether or not it is internally confidential information. But like I say, I can give you the broad figures.

CHAIR —As to the issue that Mr Zappia has raised in relation to cyberbullying, as we have heard from witnesses who have appeared before this committee, cyberbullying has come out as a major issue. I think you said that there were 18 last year that had come as far as your level within the department, but that would not include those that have been dealt with at a school level?

Mr Hill —That is correct, yes.

CHAIR —So there would be considerably more than that?

Mr Hill —Yes.

CHAIR —I know that we have had some witnesses say that Monday mornings, particularly in high schools, are often a time where the principal or senior teachers in schools are actually dealing with the fallout from events that occurred on social networking sites?

Ms Banks —Yes, absolutely. A range of strategies at local school level are in place to help support students through that. Quite often we find also that it involves the broader community, so young people who are not in our school system or young people from other schools or indeed quite often families are involved in issues that occur that are nothing to do with the school and then they come into the school. Mobile phones are often the culprit both for taking video as well as texting. A project that we have been involved in with Tas Police for the last two years has been the result of that, where the police in the northern area came to see me because they were concerned about the number of violent incidents that students were filming on their mobile phones. We reached an MOU with them that is about to go state-wide this year. It is in its second year in the north—

Senator BARNETT —With the police?

Ms Banks —Yes. What happens is that where there is a violent incident the school notifies the police. Then a decision is made about whether or not they will take it on, on behalf of the education department. At that point the principal is not required to be in the middle of trying to sort out the problem. It follows the police due process. We think that has helped to cut down the incidence of violence and the police, of course, are really good at measuring those sorts of incidents and it has certainly cut down the amount of information that they are getting on mobile phones that they either confiscate or that are brought into them with records of that kind of behaviour on them. That is an example.

Mr Hill —I am certainly aware that in the south as well they have run similar sorts of things. They actually run a competition where schools can develop cybereducation resources, so they create little videos and that. These are all created by the students around ways to do with bullying and things like that. There has certainly been a good example where those resources are then used by other schools. Ogilvie High School in the south actually run a little program where they will go out to schools and actually highlight what they are doing within their school to overcome some of these issues.

CHAIR —Does the department have a policy or is it left up to the individual schools, if there is an incident that has occurred perhaps over the weekend between students at the same school, first, and then perhaps students across schools, into how that incident is dealt with—if a parent fronts up with a student on a Monday morning and there has been posting on websites, there has been bullying with regard to perhaps putting something on a website that has upset a particular student or anything that is particularly nasty?

Ms Banks —The policy that we would refer to would be the safe and secure schools policy framework, but within that it really is contextual about the actions that a principal and the school would take. However, they would refer back to that framework as their No. 1 priority. It is difficult to give you a specific response more than that. What we expect though is that schools underneath that framework develop up their own policies, with student safety being the main thing.

Mr Hill —I am certainly aware that schools in those instances actually discuss the ICT acceptable-use guidelines and point out that this is what they expect during school; these are the things that should flow on through your normal daily life. They certainly pick up on the key messages and that around being responsible towards your fellow citizens and such. We provide guidance back to the principals around the way that they can refer sites to the site owners and things like that in those sorts of instances, because once again parents are not always aware that they can click on a certain button on YouTube or Facebook and actually refer a site back to them. Schools provide that sort of mentoring role to their parents.

CHAIR —If a student has posted something that is particularly upsetting to another student, would the school do anything about that? You would refer it back again to the safe and secure schools framework?

Ms Banks —Yes.

Mr Hill —The school, as I said, tries to take that mentoring sort of role. But the big issue we have with a lot of this sort of stuff is that, even though within the students’ minds it is dedicated directly towards them, a lot of it is an unknown space. They may use nicknames and all that sort of stuff, so for the school to turn around and say, ‘We know that it is definitely you,’ in a lot of these instances is really hard. It is implied that it is them and the students through natural relationships know that may be the case, but from the school’s perspective it is more a matter of coming back up a level and saying, ‘This is the way we want to make use of ICT,’ and reinforce it through their classes.

Senator BARNETT —In terms of cyberbullying, as a committee we know it is a problem. We are from all around Australia. In Tasmania have you got any evidence to support the fact that it is a concern or a problem? How big a concern is it? It has obviously increased over the last decade big time. We know that. You mentioned the 18 incidents. I will come to that in a minute. But have you got any evidence? Do you do surveys of the schools? Have you got any numbers to say how significant a problem it is?

Ms Banks —We would not have numbers at a system level. I agree with you it is a growing problem, though. At school level they would keep good data about that. One of the things that we have in some of our schools is a tracking system called the student support planner. We are developing up a program that will be much more sophisticated than that for our whole state, which is something that Mr Hill can talk to. But currently the student planner tracks a range of student behaviours and those sorts of things, bullying type behaviours, whether it is cyberbullying or other bullying. Inappropriate use of technology would be tracked at an individual student level in those schools. The purpose of that is for schools to report to parents and to report within their own community where there are issues so that they can address those through their school improvement plan. Every school is required to have a school improvement plan annually. That might be a subset of a broader plan, so a three- or four-year one which has got an annual iteration that includes that kind of information.

Senator BARNETT —In terms of the 18 incidents, can you give us an example of one or two of those? Most of the incidents are obviously dealt with at the school level, as I think the chair indicated and you indicated, so I presume these must be more serious. Can you just tell us about that and give us an example?

Mr Hill —These ones are where the school is not able to resolve the issue, so they might have tried referring the site back to YouTube to say, ‘We want to take it down.’ So they escalate it to us and ask us to actually try to ramp it up a bit. I will be honest; it is difficult because each of the site providers works under a different mechanism.

Senator BARNETT —Would you write to the family concerned, YouTube or—

Mr Hill —We basically act as an intermediary between the school—that is, the principal—and the service provider. With YouTube we will follow a couple of mechanisms. If it is something which we believe is particularly unsavoury—it might be a violent incident around a fight or something along those lines—we have actually taken the step of raising it through Tas Police back through AFP and getting the site removed that way, because it is the quickest way to get it removed. As I said, those sorts of instances that actually get escalated to us are few and far between. I think a lot of the other ones happening at the local level are more to do with the items that Senator Wortley highlighted before, where they happen out of hours over weekends and then the flow-on effect actually happens at the schools. So the bullying itself may not actually happen at the school but the consequences are felt there because the people come together.

Senator BARNETT —I want to refer to this letter from the Minister for Climate Change and Minister for Sustainable Transport and Alternative Energy, Nick McKim. In this respect he was acting as Minister for Corrections and Consumer Protection. It is a letter dated 1 April and I would like to table that letter with the attachments. You may or may not have seen the letter. It relates to the Martin Bryant Facebook page that caused a great deal of angst and upset back in January and February of this year. He has responded to our chair’s letter of 7 March and he has noted that there was difficulty contacting Facebook, but he indicated that the deputy secretary’s letter, which is attached, was sent on 2 February and it is dated 2 February and the letter is there. Again that is part of the tabled documents.

We had Facebook as a witness and they said they did not receive it until 23 February via a fax. That is obviously three weeks after that. But according to all the media at and around the time the department sent that letter on 19 January. The minister’s letter refers to a letter of 2 February, so that is a couple of weeks difference there and Facebook say they did not receive it until 23 February. We have some real explaining to do. I think the state government and Facebook have some explaining to do. Facebook have agreed to come back to our committee with further and better particulars—I understand by the end of April, which is a long time since our hearing on 21 March, frankly. So that is a very disappointing delay. Are you able to provide any information or further evidence in regard to the Martin Bryant Facebook page, which you would remember caused a great deal of upset, grieving and angst at the time, as is acknowledged by Minister McKim? Are you able to shed any light on that?

Mr Hill —None whatsoever, unfortunately. It is not something that has come across my desk as an escalation point from schools.

Senator BARNETT —As you are the only witnesses from the state government today, would you mind taking it on notice and perhaps getting the Hansard when it comes through to forward through to Minister McKim’s office and ask him to provide further and better particulars—he has written a letter here, e has got a letter of 2 February, and it was in all the public media that that letter was written on 19 January, some two weeks before—to try to explain this five-week delay when Facebook said they received it on 23 February? Could you take that on notice and refer those questions through to that department of the minister. That would be greatly appreciated.

Ms Banks —Which minister, please?

Senator BARNETT —Minister McKim. He is the minister for corrective services.

CHAIR —I believe that the committee would be in a position to do that, because the people before us at this stage are representing a particular department, so that would not be appropriate. But the committee—

Senator BARNETT —It has certainly been done before, but do you think we should write as a committee?

CHAIR —That would be the position that I think we should take, yes.

Senator BARNETT —That is the preferred position; okay.

CHAIR —In regard to research on young people’s behaviour, research has indicated that it is highly influenced by their friends and peers. What kinds of recommendations would you be able to put forward perhaps to the committee that would encourage participation of young people in promoting cybersafety to their peers?

Mr Hill —I suppose the example I highlighted before, from Ogilvie High School, where as part of their curriculum development during the year they are actually developing resources which they use within their local school and then can actually use in other schools. That is an excellent way to go because it builds a strong bond within the school and builds relationships between that school and others. That is obviously where a lot of these issues happen out of hours. It is when people from different schools come together in a variety of contexts.

So I think things can happen along those sorts of lines in a broader spectrum. Once again I am familiar with a couple of examples in primary schools where they have done similar things and the primary school has done a really good, local development around resources with student input. Then through professional learning days that flows out to other teachers from other schools. I think it needs to be the partnership around the student and the teacher and the school. Ideally, the thing that would really take it further is to get parents and friends and school associations developing those and sponsoring that to take it to the next level.

Ms Banks —As Mr Hill was speaking I was thinking that because it is such a broad social issue, which is part of the reason it is so tricky, it needs to be dealt with in that way as well. So, while children and young people in particular are influenced by their peers, it is also the case that their parents and the adults in their lives also do not understand and engage with them inappropriately through technology. It needs that breadth of information sharing and campaigning and, if you like, turning it into something that is not cool any more, in the same way as over time government has done such a fantastic job in shifting perceptions about smoking. It is that kind of behaviour as well that we need to do. I think it is a whole-of-society issue.

CHAIR —Are there any recommendations that you think could be picked up at this stage with regard to cybersafety? It is not just cyberbullying, it is a whole issue of the amount of information that some young people are actually putting out there, the way it is being used and so on.

Mr Hill —I suppose that is why our schools take the approach that it is an important 21st century skill they need to educate on and that is why I mentioned before that primary schools, through the teacher, actually highlight the concept of Facebook and show students that if you do have a Facebook page and you do not turn all these sorts of things on and off then this is what is available to the outside world. Going forward we need to make sure that these tools are used as part of their day-to-day schooling. But another thing is we are actually educating students to become 21st century citizens, which is different to what it was 10 years ago.

CHAIR —What steps need to be put in place for that to occur? Is there anything that you think would be useful to ensure a clear passage for that to occur? Can I perhaps raise a point that has been highlighted throughout the hearings regarding teacher training in service and preservice.

Ms Banks —Certainly supporting teacher ongoing training across the variety of uses, so our focus as educators is on using technology as a tool. Using technology in social environments is an area in which I think teachers need ongoing support. I think it is increasing almost in the same way that young people used to get their pen licence and teachers used to teach them to write, then using technology in that way is the way you communicate and teachers need support in how to do that effectively and appropriately. As Mr Hill said, understanding that teaching these young people to be citizens of the world socially as well as a group of learners would be the pathway.

CHAIR —As part of their teacher registration some states have protective behaviour training; it is a mandatory training that they have to have every three years. I am not sure what the situation is in Tasmania.

Ms Banks —I do not know whether that is part of the training that teachers get through university. Protective behaviour training is not part of an ongoing mandatory thing for teachers. Again, because our system is so devolved, those sorts of things are more likely to happen either at a learning service level, which is regional, or at a school level.

CHAIR —For someone who is qualified as a teacher in Tasmania, do you have to reapply for registration every few years?

Ms Banks —Yes, you do.

CHAIR —As part of that reapplying for registration, is there any training or do you just fill in a form and send it in?

Ms Banks —Pretty much, depending on your circumstances. If you have been out of the system for some time then there is a requirement around professional learning or the like. However if you have always been registered over a number of years, then it is as you describe pretty much, so that would be a place that you could influence.

CHAIR —Yes, because in some states the teacher registration is renewed every three years and you need to actually attend either a full-day or a half-day course on protective behaviour. There has been some discussion as to whether or not part of that should include cybersafety training and information for teachers. Do you think that would be useful?

Ms Banks —Absolutely.

Senator BARNETT —In regard to these 21 incidents, can you take this on notice perhaps and come back with a bit of an overview of the nature of the concern. You do not have to be specific in terms of names, but just so we know what we are talking about. I was just interested in your views on the merit of some sort of cybersafety council or some Commonwealth-state entity. At the moment, here we are sitting in education but we have been talking about the minister for corrections; there is ICT, technology; it is cross-portfolio; is it not? Do you think there could be merit in some sort of entity that could assist in addressing some of these issues, providing policy and perhaps even operational assistance? Do you have a view on that? You may not have but I wanted to ask.

Mr Hill —There is already the online council which comes out of the Prime Minister and the state premiers. It would be a matter of looking at what its terms of reference are, but I am certainly aware of information that has flowed from there back to us from Commonwealth agencies such as the Defence Signals Directorate where they give good policy advice around particularly changes in the use of technology. So it would be a good question to ask as to what its scope is and whether its scope needs to be expanded.

Senator BARNETT —The supplementary question is that in terms of addressing problems there has been a suggestion that there could be merit in an ombudsman role where complaints could be put and made and assessed. Do you have a view about the merit or otherwise of an ombudsman?

Mr Hill —I think to assist parents and to a lesser degree schools, because schools obviously have people like us who can provide them with good advice, I think because parents are in a space where a lot of them are not comfortable to have an area where they could go to get good, unbiased advice and support would be a good way to dramatically improve their skills at a quicker rate than what might otherwise happen.

Senator BARNETT —You make a good point because later today we have got the Australian Parents Council representing parents and friends, so we will get to hear from them what they think, but your point is well made.

CHAIR —On that same issue, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, ACMA, have a number of resources for parents, teachers and students. Are those resources promoted through your schools?

Mr Hill —I will be honest; I think they are the best resources that are actually used across the spectrum. The department of broadband have some really good resources, just like the resources we recently announced for schools to use which are targeted really for teacher-student engagement, whereas all the feedback I get from school principals and from the couple of sessions I have been to is that ACMA really do engage the broad spectrum. They are probably the best resources that parents get to see and hear because they give them some great context and they give them some real-life experiences. They do a great job.

CHAIR —Towards the end of last year the minister launched the cybersafety help button. Are you familiar with that?

Mr Hill —Yes. We have enabled that for our schools to use. The take-up is not huge. Once again it is up to the local school as to how they make use of it.

CHAIR —Do you know that in Queensland the department has actually downloaded that button on every computer in the schools? To actually download that button takes maybe not even a minute and it enables students then, if there is a particular issue that they are confronted with, to click on that button which they might keep on their desktop and it will take them straight through and provide information. The question is, ‘Are you being cyberbullied, do you feel unsafe or have you seen inappropriate material?’ They can just click on the button to report a particular incident or to provide more information about how to deal with it. Have you made schools aware of it?

Mr Hill —Yes, we have certainly made schools aware and we have certainly made the technology so that the school does not have to do anything. It can appear on the desktop if a school decides. Some of the schools have decided that they deal at a local level with all sorts of things which the button provides, so it is part of the ICT guidelines around building that relationship between the student and teacher around the issue: ‘If you do see something which is confronting to you—it does not matter what it is—report it to us,’ and things like that. So, if schools want to take a more local context, actually getting the students to deal with something which is out there, therefore they may not get a direct feedback about it. It is certainly available but a lot of schools have taken the local context.

Senator BARNETT —You mentioned earlier the MOU with the police?

Ms Banks —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —I understand that that sounds very important. Has that been drafted? Is that complete?

Ms Banks —The MOU?

Senator BARNETT —Yes.

Ms Banks —With the north it has been in operation for two years. We are just looking at whether or not we can employ it state-wide. My understanding at the moment is that that is with the police and the process for informing other learning services is about to start.

Senator BARNETT —But you mentioned you were going to bring it in towards the end of this year, I thought?

Ms Banks —We are hopeful, yes.

Senator BARNETT —You are hopeful?

Ms Banks —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —Is that something we could get a copy of, or would you be able to forward us a link to it?

Ms Banks —Of the MOU or the program?

Senator BARNETT —The MOU.

Ms Banks —Yes, I can do that.

Senator BARNETT —Is that different to the program?

Ms Banks —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —Have you got a bit more detail on the program, or could you forward that to the committee?

Ms Banks —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —This might be slightly outside your area, but the use of social marketing—Twitter, Facebook and so on—relatively speaking is a new medium. In the area of political advertising and marketing it is well used. But when it comes to elections we have big problems because the electoral laws require authorisation at the bottom on every piece of communication, as you would be aware. We have got four elections in Tasmania in the next couple of weeks in the Legislative Council, and this has caused some angst. It is obviously not just going to be a problem for Tassie; it will be for the whole nation. Do you have any views on whether this can be sorted? Is it possible to deal with it, or will social marketing be removed as a result of our electoral laws requiring authorisation? For example, on Twitter with the limited number of words you can use and on Facebook, do you have any views on that or is this outside your scope?

CHAIR —Given that we have got the education department and we are dealing with people who in the majority of cases are under the age of 18, I am not sure—

Senator BARNETT —Well, if they have a view I would welcome it.

CHAIR —I will hand it over to the department.

Senator BARNETT —If they have, yes; if no, that is fine.

Mr Hill —I would say no.

Senator BARNETT —Is it outside your scope?

Mr Hill —Yes.

Senator BARNETT —That is fine.

CHAIR —Is there anything that you would like to add? Obviously this committee is going to hand down a report and there will be some recommendations with that report. Is there anything that you would like to see included that would assist schools dealing with the issue of cybersafety, or do you think that enough is being done? What would you like to see?

Ms Banks —It is such a big issue. We want our schools to be smart. We want them to be able to lead the way. It is an attitudinal change that needs to sit under that, a cultural way of being, so I think that I would like to see that approach to these tools sitting underneath the way forward. The recommendation needs to talk about, from my point of view, the value-set as being fundamental to the activities that we take as a result of your report. I think if we had a shared value-set, in the same way that the Melbourne declaration describes some shared values, then the values that sit under cyberlearning need to be really clear and agreed to.

CHAIR —You raised the issue earlier about how smoking has been addressed and how there has been improvement in that. That came about in part by a very big advertising campaign. Would an advertising campaign with regard to cybersafety be part of having the issue addressed?

Mr Hill —My own thought is that potentially you are not going to engage the ones where you are missing out at the moment through something like that. If people are not engaged in understanding the way technology is used either for themselves or their family, then seeing an ad in the newspaper and on a TV, they are probably not going to resonate with it anyway.

CHAIR —Targeting parents?

Mr Hill —It is a potential. It is interesting because when you look at the department’s schools and the resources they use, they use eight to 10 different resources from a variety of Commonwealth and state resources in supporting them, and the recent ones that we have added from the local company. Schools very much locally contextualise it and try to build it into their wider school community as to what is happening. That is why we have not taken a one-size-fits-all approach. What works in one geographic area may be completely different from what works elsewhere. As I say, some schools make really good use of the outreach services from ACMA whereas other schools say, ‘No, we are heading down the Alannah and Madeline Foundation mindset.’ Another school says, ‘No, we make use of resources that have come from overseas through Microsoft,’ or whatever the case may be. It is really hard to say that one certain thing is going to fit all. What it probably highlights is that from a school perspective the way they deal with it is the way that they believe they are going to get maximum exposure and uptake from their broader communities.

CHAIR —We would like to thank you for appearing before the committee today and for your information and insight particularly with the education department. If the committee has any further questions then the secretariat will be in touch with you.

Proceedings suspended from 9.55 am to 10.46 am