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Environment and Communications Legislation Committee
27/02/2018
Estimates
COMMUNICATIONS AND THE ARTS PORTFOLIO
Office of the eSafety Commissioner

Office of the eSafety Commissioner

[16:23]

CHAIR: Welcome back, Ms Inman Grant and colleagues. Is there an opening statement you'd like to make?

Ms Inman Grant : I would, thank you. Since we last met in October, in this very same comfortable chair, we've achieved a lot. We've launched our IBA portal, our image based abuse portal, and thus far we've had 50,000 visits to the website. We've had 130 complaints with an 80 per cent success rate. We've also launched our Be Connected site for senior citizens. This is a learning ecosystem that has over 15,000 active users at the moment and 120 learning activities, and we'll be doing more over the coming years to stimulate intergenerational training.

We co-hosted our first international online safety conference with Netsafe New Zealand. We had 400 experts from all over the globe, cementing our role as a leader in online safety. At that conference we launched international sexting research with New Zealand and the UK, finding that while 95 per cent of teens between the ages of 14 and 17 believe that sexting is rife, only five per cent of those same teens had actually sent a sext.

Our cyberbullying complaints have increased 34 per cent over the past year, and in the first two weeks of February this year we've seen a 133 per cent spike. That doesn't necessarily reflect an increase in cyberbullying, but rather an increase in the awareness of our office. Our marketing communications effort is something you as a committee have spoken to us a lot about. Since July of last year, the office has been mentioned or quoted in more than 650 media items, reaching a potential of 44 million Australians. Our social media following has increased 27 per cent. We now have a collective 55,000 followers. For special events like Safer Internet Day, which we held earlier this month and launched here in Parliament House, we've shown that we can orchestrate and bring people with us. We had 240 iconic organisations behind us, reached about 15 million Australians with the highest levels of government and also reached 55,000 students through our virtual classrooms program.

All that said, we know we're just reaching the tip of iceberg in helping Australians online. As you would know, 2018 started very soberly with the tragic passing of Dolly Everett. While cyberbullying is not a new phenomenon—bullying itself has been around from time immemorial and it's been about 10 years since cyberbullying has been an issue—we know that one in five Australian children are cyberbullied, 14 is the average age and girls are bullied more than boys. The simple fact of the matter is Australia is the only country in the world that has a government agency solely dedicated to the online safety of its citizens, and we have the only legislated cyberbullying regime in the world. This allows us to act as a safety net for young Australian users who are bullied on social media sites. It helps correct the power imbalance that users have with social media sites after they respond if the serious cyberbullying isn't taken down. Thus far we've helped more than 700 Australian children get that harmful content removed. This early intervention is really important because we do not want the cyberbullying to escalate to a situation where a child doesn't feel like there's any help or any way out.

My call to you, after having spoken at COAG and the Queensland cabinet over the past week, is that at this point in time cyberbullying is not only a global issue but also a national issue that needs to be dealt with at the national level. It is not the time to duplicate and fractionalise resources. We have a strong evidence base that shows kids in Tasmania are not bullied differently to kids in Queensland or WA, so we need to make sure that there's a single set of resources and reporting tools that Australians know that they can go to. We don't want to further confuse. We want to make sure that more people can come to our office and get the help that they need. Thank you very much.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. We'll proceed to questions.

Senator O'NEILL: Thank you very much and good afternoon. Is there any chance we might get a copy of that opening statement? It's fairly dense.

Ms Inman Grant : Absolutely. Thank you. At least you didn't say I was!

Senator O'NEILL: That would be way beyond cyberbullying! I will go to a couple of the things that you mentioned—firstly, the Parliament House event for Safer Internet Day. I didn't actually get to attend. We don't get to attend all the wonderful things that happen here. Can you advise the committee what your office did to mark that occasion and which stakeholders you brought together at Parliament House? You intimated there were 240 participants. How many came to Parliament House?

Ms Inman Grant : There were 240 organisations that stood behind us on Safer Internet Day. This was everyone from McDonald's to Optus to Telstra. I can detail that; we have a detailed report. I can take that on notice and send it to you. We had 130 people attend our event at Parliament House from all parties. Of course Minister Fifield and the Prime Minister addressed the audience to underscore the government's support for showing respect online. Shadow minister Michelle Rowland, Gai Brodtmann and a range of people across parties were there. I believe that's what's important. This issue shows that there should be no political boundaries. This is something that affects us all.

Senator O'NEILL: So you're going to take on notice the stakeholders that were brought together here at Parliament House?

Ms Inman Grant : I surely will.

Senator O'NEILL: And the 240 people who stood behind you.

Ms Inman Grant : Absolutely.

Senator O'NEILL: Thank you very much. I understand the event was live streamed. How many people participated in the live streaming?

Ms Inman Grant : I will have to take that on notice as well.

Senator O'NEILL: Following that event, there was a meeting of COAG to discuss cyberbullying where I understand you briefed the COAG leaders. Could you please inform the committee about that COAG meeting? What was your briefing, what was discussed and what was agreed upon on the issue of tackling cyberbullying?

Ms Inman Grant : I gave a presentation which I believe is largely confidential. I wasn't there for the further deliberations, but I can tell you—I say it consistently, I have said here today and it is on the public record—that one in five Australian children are cyberbullied and the average age is 14. I explained what our office did and the unique powers that we have to initiate takedown of serious cyberbullying content. We've worked effectively with the social media sites and had a 100 per cent compliance rate in getting this content taken down. If there ever was a disagreement about content that should be taken down, we do have significant civil powers to issue social media sites in the tier 2 scheme up to $18,000 a day. We do have the ability to issue end-user notices, both to end users and the sites themselves. We use a lot of discretion because we know that most cyberbullying is an extension of what's happening in the schoolyard and is peer to peer. We would use a lot of discretion in whether or not we would issue an end-user notice to a youth.

I talked a little bit about our view on criminalising cyberbullying and our view that that may be reserved for the most egregious offenders and there are laws on the books to do so, but we feel our civil powers are quite significant. I said that we need to work together. We need to have resolve to tackle this as a national issue. The reason the office was established was to coordinate and demonstrate leadership. We want to make sure that young people know they can come to our office for our resources and our support and that we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We also talked a little bit about the royal commission report and the recommendations that education be delivered more consistently and comprehensively across the country, specifically online safety and related education.

We've been engaged in a range of educational activities—directly engaging with students, preservice teacher training, professional development training and developing online safety curricula that promote principles based online safety skills like resilience, critical reasoning, respect, responsibility, consent and respect generally. We believe that if we're going to move the bar—and we know that education is federated and somewhat fragmented here—prevention is the best cure through education that's consistently delivered throughout the child's educational journey. Through early intervention and through the services that the office provides, when we take that holistic approach and we get that harmful content down, we engage parents and educators. We hear from schools that once we're engaged, the cyberbullying tends to dissipate because we've gotten to the root causes of the dispute between the students.

Senator O'NEILL: You mentioned in your opening remarks that it was a confidential briefing. You gave a reasonably good summary of what you said there. Why is it confidential?

Senator Fifield: I think the commissioner is indicating that COAG is a forum for first ministers, and it's really up to first ministers what they say about what occurs in the COAG forum. I think it was the commissioner showing respect to first ministers. What may be of assistance is part of the communique from COAG. The first ministers said:

Bullying has no place in Australia, and can be especially harmful on children and young people. The growth of social media and mobile devices means that Australians can be subject to bullying 24 hours a day and from any location. Leaders heard from the eSafety Commissioner, Ms Julie Inman Grant, on initiatives to combat cyberbullying and acknowledged the ongoing importance of this work. First Ministers agreed that if we are to successfully reduce the incidence of bullying, we must better understand its underlying drivers and adopt a whole-of-community approach. COAG agreed that a working group of senior officials from First Ministers’, Education, Justice and Health departments consider existing and potential initiatives to help combat bullying and cyberbullying and establish a work program to be led by the Education Council. The Education Council will report to COAG at its next meeting on tangible measures where there is an identified need.

Senator O'NEILL: Thanks for that, Minister. The work program for the Education Council—could you give me a bit of an update on what's going on with that and what else the office is doing to progress these issues?

Senator Fifield: The Education Council is a ministerial council, I am assuming, and that is what they were charged with on 9 February 2018. The commissioner may have something to add.

Ms Inman Grant : All I can add is that we met with Minister Birmingham today. He is engaging with the Education Council, and we have offered our resources and assistance in whichever way they may need our expertise.

Senator O'NEILL: Is there anything else that the office is doing to progress issues that were raised with the COAG leaders?

Ms Inman Grant : I've written to the premiers and I've made the offer that I followed through with with the Queensland premier and cabinet last week to brief them on the functions of our office, the research and statistics that we have and my thoughts on how we could work more closely with the states in terms of moving these issues forward. We're already engaging with state departments of education, state law enforcement agencies and the children's commissioners in each state. We fulfil a national function. We want to make sure that our footprint, our resources and our services are made widely available, and we believe that we can do this through working with MPs at the federal level and with leaders at the state and territory level as well.

Senator O'NEILL: I'm sure we're all still very mindful of the loss of the Everett family with Dolly's passing. It certainly captured the imagination of families right across the country in the course of the summer. I'm aware that there are a number of not-for-profit organisations and other entities that are undertaking a lot of work in this space already, delivering digital licences. How do you see the role that you have played, where you want to be one agency for the whole country, and these other not-for-profit and other organisations doing work currently in the digital space for young people?

Ms Inman Grant : I see us working very synergistically. A number of those NGOs are part of our Online Safety Consultative Working Group and serve as experts in helping us form a lot of the work and the resources that we do. I don't think one single entity, whether it's a government agency or a singular NGO, can offer a full solution or a full panacea, or a silver bullet, if you will. I think we do have a patchwork of really wonderful efforts going on, as you've seen with a lot of the NGOs and their penetration into the states—I think that that's fabulous—with some of these frameworks. But there are some things that are going to need to be tackled at the national level and have the civil schemes and the government's backing behind them. So I see them as a complementary. We continue to work with the industry, with the NGO sector and with all governments to try to achieve the same end, which is to make the online world safer for Australians.

Senator O'NEILL: I have a couple of questions around social media and mental health in particular. I'd like to touch on recent reports of a correlation between the use of social media and mental health specifically. I'm sure that you are aware of lots of materials that have been released about this currently, with particular regard to youth. What research or evidence are you aware of about such a correlation? How does that inform your practice?

Ms Inman Grant : Do you mean a direct correlation between cyberbullying and social media use?

Senator O'NEILL: And mental health.

Ms Inman Grant : I will take that on notice. But one of the things we did last month was that we convened an e-safety and mental health working group for that very reason. A number of mental health organisations were very concerned about the direct line that was being drawn in the media between cyberbullying and suicide. We were all concerned about a potential youth contagion effect. There are 20 organisations. We're meeting again on Thursday. We've met to scope out a work plan so that we have a common incidence response plan. Hopefully another tragic event like this won't happen, but we want more consistent messaging and more consistent research. Depending on your methodology—there's a range of research out there. We want to do our best as eSafety and mental health sectors to work together to deliver consistent messages and practical solutions for parents, educators and young people themselves. We don't want people panicking; the natural response to panic is fight or flight. We want people to maximise the benefits of the online world. We want them to understand the risks and be able to mitigate those risks in a way that's constructive and helpful to them.

Senator O'NEILL: Would you be able to read the list of the 20 organisations? Do you have that?

Ms Inman Grant : I will take that on notice. Off the top of my head, there is the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, SANE, headspace, Mindframe, The Butterfly Foundation, Lifeline, Kids Helpline, the Carly Ryan Foundation and PROJECT ROCKIT.

Senator O'NEILL: That sounds like you're in the right space.

Ms Inman Grant : Yes, we're fortunate.

Senator O'NEILL: My next question was: how is evidence based research informing your work? It sounds like you're actually getting together a body of people to get the evidence and inform your work as a result of that. Is that a fair assessment of what you've just said?

Ms Inman Grant : We have an in-house research team. Research underpins everything that we do. The evidence base underpins everything we do. Most of the stats that I've mentioned to you come from either the research we deliver or the evidence we collect through our complaints processes. We're getting ready to release a couple of big research pieces that were conducted last year. One is around online gaming and the incidence of bullying in the context of online gaming. The second is a youth and digital danger survey, where we talked to 3,000 Australian youths. That's where I have the evidence base to say that children in one state aren't bullied differently than children in others; they're having the same negative experiences online. We're starting to field a national parents' survey so we can get a better sense of the tools and information parents feel that they need to more effectively engage in their children's online lives.

Senator O'NEILL: In your view, based on the evidence you have read, what are the characteristics of social media that may contribute to negative effects with respect to mental health?

Ms Inman Grant : Are you talking about addiction and that sort of thing? I will take that on notice. There is a lot of research out there that I think is highly speculative. I would like to have the opportunity to respond to your question in writing, if I may.

Senator O'NEILL: That would be great. How are the social media platforms responding to these concerns? How are they engaging with you around the issue of mental health and young people in particular?

Ms Inman Grant : We have engaged Digi, which is the industry group Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter are all a part of. A number of us met with them just a month ago to have them discuss the range of interventions they're taking with respect to self-harm, eating disorders and suicide prevention. They have provided us with those materials. Clearly they believe that their services are there, and I think they want to be a source for good. They don't want to see this kind of behaviour on their sites, so they're doing what they can. I believe more can always be done, and part of our role is to encourage them to continue to invest and to innovate in the safety space, and to continue to use safety by design as a key engineering and development process before they bring their products and services to market. They need to be actively thinking about how their potential platforms can be misused before they go to market. You'll be seeing more from us on safety by design and what we think the platforms should be doing to build that into their processes.

Senator O'NEILL: Are you giving any directions to social media platforms around changing their practices with regard to what they allow to stay up online. That's not direct cyberbullying but creating a context in which—you mentioned eating disorders; I want to go to that.

Ms Inman Grant : Let me give you an example of a conversation I had with a platform last week. I've been concerned that for platforms like the iTunes Store and Google Play some of their ratings probably aren't up to scratch. I wanted to understand how they were looking at apps and whether or not they were evaluating when they were made aware of potential harms. This platform provider told me that Sarahah—which is an anonymous messaging app which has been the subject of a petition from an Australian mother—had, in fact, used their role as a platform provider to write directly to those app developers to encourage them to strengthen their policies around cyberbullying. As it happens, they have subsequently dropped Sarahah from their app store. I do think they can act as an important choke point for encouraging apps to more responsible and to be thinking about safety by design and the right safety policies.

Senator O'NEILL: That's a good outcome for emerging technologies and opportunities. But, if we just go to Facebook, for example, Mission Australia—I'm sure you're well aware of their work—did a national survey. They found that 41 per cent of young women surveyed were concerned about body image compared to 17 per cent of young men—consistently ranking in the top three concerns of young people. Facebook is providing a platform for eating disorders and communities of people who really need better guidance than they're getting on Facebook. Are you monitoring that; and are you responding to that?

Ms Inman Grant : We haven't had any reports come into the office. I do believe that Facebook does have policies in their community guidelines that prevent the glorification of eating disorders and those sorts of things. I think we have to distinguish between what is a violation of the terms of service and what is a sad reality, which I believe our young people are confronting today, with the emergence of social media: having to curate a perfect image all the time, measuring their popularity or their self-worth based on likes. So there are certain societal things that are changing that are concerning, but where we do have regulatory power is where there is either abuse or it violates the Broadcasting Services Act. That's where we do have a role in helping to take down that content or to work with the social media sites. Do you have anything further to add?

Ms Vassiliadis : The only thing I would add is that, in addition to the regulatory role, we do play an active role from an educational awareness perspective. We build into our youth resources a lot of information and guidance on developing critical thinking, and enabling and empowering young people to be able to see a website and see what they're promoting and to be able to actually think, 'The message that they're conveying here is not a positive message that I should be taking on board', and so forth.

Ms Inman Grant : I have had specific conversations with Netflix, for instance, in both Washington, DC and here in Australia, about some of their edgier content that's targeted at teens and what more they could be doing around issuing trigger warnings and partnering with different mental health or eating disorder organisations here, when they know that this is going to reach a broader audience. They have been receptive to that and are looking at it. I think we'll have more to talk about in terms of some of the partnerships they're having with some of the local mental health organisations. So, yes, we do have a bit of a bully pulpit where I think we can encourage these companies to do better.

Senator O'NEILL: I want to go to Be Connected, a completely different part of the target audience? Could you advise why the program was put together and what's it actually designed to achieve?

Ms Inman Grant : I believe it was last year that then DSS Minister Christian Porter, Minister Fifield and the Prime Minister announced a $47 million package for keeping seniors safer online. We are the recipients of about $16.89 million over four years to develop the specific online resources for older Australians. What was interesting for me to learn was the most underrepresented group online in Australia are Australians over the age of 65. Only 51 per cent are online.

Senator O'NEILL: It's because their NBN interconnections are so bad.

Ms Inman Grant : I can't comment on that. But we also know that that older generation is a much more trusting generation. So, in addition to basic digital literacy skills, we don't want older people to be socially isolated. We want them to be connected. We want them to access government services, but we want them to be safe when doing it. That is the role that we have played in terms of developing the online resources to help them navigate that world, and this year we're working on some intergenerational learning projects. We know that older people respond to more active engagement and we want to encourage young people training and working with the older generations to help them achieve that same aim.

Senator O'NEILL: What was the evidence base to indicate that a program like this was required? Did you generate any evidence or receive any evidence, or were you directed to do this by the minister, the Prime Minister and Minister Porter?

Ms Inman Grant : I cannot speak about the evidence base prior to the announcement, but I can say that we do engage in research before we embark on a project. I recall us doing a number of focus groups.

Ms Vassiliadis : In the research we commissioned there is a post-event indicator that 73 per cent of seniors that were surveyed were interested in receiving this type of training. That obviously influenced the resources and the types of content we were to create.

Senator O'NEILL: Did you say 51 per cent is the level of engagement in this age group?

Ms Inman Grant : Australian seniors 65 and older.

Senator O'NEILL: So is the goal to have more people get online and do their interactions with the government online rather than help the ageing people?

Ms Inman Grant : No, I think it was to improve digital literacy all up so they can use technology and enhance their lives in whichever way they see fit, whether it is accessing government services or being connected to family and friends—being connected in a way that's safe and helpful to their quality of life.

Senator O'NEILL: Thanks.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: It's great to be back with you, Ms Inman Grant.

Ms Inman Grant : Nice to see you.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: I thought I'd start off by taking you back to last October, where you answered some questions from my colleague here, Senator O'Neill, in relation to additional funding for the commission for administering the civil penalties regime. The minister at the time alluded that sufficient funding would be provided but couldn't pre-empt future budget decisions. I'm wondering, now that the legislation has been introduced and, indeed, passed by the Senate, whether yourself or, probably, the minister, would now be able to advise of additional funding that will be provided to the commission to perform these extended duties?

Senator Fifield: The budget process is underway, so I can't pre-empt it, but let me just say we will always ensure that the office of the commissioner has the resources they need to do their work.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: To be sufficiently funded? Would that be a fair way to phrase it?

Senator Fifield: That would be fair.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: To explore that in a little bit more detail with regard to your thinking of the definition of 'sufficient' in this regard, would you take that to be funding which enabled the commission to perform these activities in addition to the activities they are already performing?

Senator Fifield: I can't add anything other than that we have a process and these issues are always considered in that context.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Thank you very much. This is a question for you, Commissioner. I wondered if you could speak to a adequacy of the current funding for the office and to carry out its existing remit and also your expectation of increased needs for additional responsibilities involved in administering the non-consensual sharing of intimate images complaints and penalties regime.

Ms Inman Grant : I would say we're a very busy office. What I have tried to build is a nimble, innovative, fast-paced office. If we're going to keep up with young people and their needs and if we're going to keep up with technology then we need to be nimble and fast working. We're working within our resources right now. I talked a little bit about awareness and the work that we're doing to raise awareness, because we do want to help more people and we do have the capacity to help more people, but I am very mindful that we don't want our communications and marketing to result in a spike of activity that we can't manage.

Another very important priority for me is delivering compassionate citizen service. If I ever felt that we were reaching a point where we were at capacity, I would continue working with the department and the minister's office as we are now on resourcing.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Would you have anything to add to that, Minister?

Senator Fifield: No.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: You mentioned in your opening statement, Commissioner, that you'd seen a spike in complaints and activity within the commission. It's fine if you've got to take this on notice: would you be able to give us an idea of the resulting resourcing impact that that's had upon the commission?

Ms Inman Grant : Again, I think it was a result of increased awareness to the office in light of the tragic passing of Dolly Everett. What we've seen over the past year is a 34 per cent increase, which we have been able to manage adequately. What we saw in the first two weeks of February was a sharp 133 per cent increase, which, again, we have been able to handle. Down the track, if it continued of that trajectory, resources would be pushed. But one thing that I have tried to do is build in fat—the ability to move people around. So, while we may have a certain numb number of people working on cyberbullying complaints and image based abuse complaints, we have the cyber-report team.

I'm building a technology tools platform on the back end because what we're seeing is that, while these are distinct reporting lines, there is an intermingling or co-mingling of abuse types. For instance, 15 per cent of our cyberbullying reports have been around sexting gone wrong, which is image based abuse. Eighty per cent of our image based abuse cases have been of women, but 40 per cent of those have been under the age of 18. That becomes child sexual abuse material and it's passed on to the cyber-reporting team. So having this cross-disciplinary set of teams working closely together means that, when there's a surge in one area, we've got other teams that have help support.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Wonderful. Would you be able to provide me with an idea of the exact numbers of staff currently employed by the commission, their various employment types, the roles they perform and the programs they serve under?

Ms Inman Grant : Sure.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: If it's an on-notice question, that's fine.

Ms Inman Grant : We have 43 ASL and 31 contractors. What I would say is that just giving their roles may not adequately explain what they do. For instance, we have horizontal functions, like a legal and policy function, like a communications and marketing function and like the content development work we do for the website, that sit across all the different reporting types. But I will take that on notice, and we will come back with something so you can have a better sense of how we're set up.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: It is still four personnel who are dedicated to dealing with the cyberbullying complaints processes that you currently handle?

Ms Inman Grant : Yes. This is a perfect illustration of that. We have four people dealing directly, day in, day out with complaints, but we probably have closer to 10-12 people working on cyberbullying as a whole if you look at the prevention, the administration of the certified providers scheme, the content development, and the communications and marketing that we're doing around cyberbullying.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: If you have four on complaints but generally 12 related, how does that sit in the context of the number of personnel dedicated to different areas within the commission currently? Where is your highest concentration of staffing in relation to that priority?

Ms Inman Grant : If we look at the different complaints areas, we have another small but mighty team of four, and the image based abuse team is a very experienced one. They've received 130 reports just since October of last year, when we opened the portal. I think we're a couple short on the child sexual exploitation team. Generally we have eight investigators. I think we're down to six at the moment. We're actively looking at hiring there. I often say our website, esafety.gov.au, is the window to our soul—just in case you hadn't checked it out!

Senator STEELE-JOHN: I most certainly have.

Ms Inman Grant : Your resources are only as good as the content you're developing. Our largest team is probably our youth, parent and education group. That's where a lot of the content development is for our iParent portal, our young and eSafe platform, and for the website there. We have had about seven million visits to the website since we became an office.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Fantastic. Any additional information can you provide, I'm really keen to get a snapshot of the inner workings and the personnel allocations of the commission at this time. So, any information in that vein you can provide would be really useful. Taking you back to the October estimates, you stated there—and I think subsequently during the hearing in relation to cyberbullying—that you haven't had to exercise your formal takedown powers. Is that still the case as of today?

Ms Inman Grant : That still is the case. As I think I said at that time, we try to use the carrot as much as possible, but it's very helpful to have the stick. All of the social media sites in both the tier 1 and tier 2 schemes have been cooperative and have taken down serious cyberbullying when we have reported it to them. The same can be said with image based abuse. I might also add that we are being much more proactive in seeking out more participants in the tier scheme. Next month we'll be announcing two new apps and platforms that will be joining the tier 1 scheme, and we're looking at a few that we may have the minister designate into the tier 2 scheme, as well.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Wonderful. Given that the new legislation, in whatever form it eventually exists, will extend your powers even further, how do expect this will compound your resourcing requirements, and, in a practical sense, due to the fact you're moving from what, my impression is, a very kind of relationship based system that you employ, to a process that includes law enforcement responsibilities?

Ms Inman Grant : We've had an 80 per cent success rate in the image based abuse area with just the powers we have. With the additional civil penalties, if we are granted them, I just think this gives us more tools to be more effective. To give you an example, we've learnt about 82 new sites that victims have reported their images have been placed on, and most of these are overseas sites. We've had a lot of luck getting some of these images down from the social media sites—from the more well-known tube or commercial porn sites. There are some lesser-known porn sites and chan boards we have had success with. But there's a category of rogue porn sites that are largely set up for the purpose of exploiting and humiliating people, where the 20 per cent fail rate is. We're working more closely and are trying to build our relationships. We have relationships with the other hotlines, through the INHOPE network, and we're working with the AFP and local law enforcement, who of course work with other law enforcement across the globe.

This is a global issue. 99.9 per cent of the content, whether it's child sexual abuse content or image based abuse content, is hosted overseas. It does help to have the government seal behind you when you issue a take-down notice and we point out that they are violating their own terms of service, and that's how we've been successful in getting this content taken down.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: That would certainly assist you when dealing with a website, a hosted service, but, in a case where you're dealing with an individual, that relationship based work would be very different, because you're dealing with somebody who is perpetrating abuse, so I would imagine it would require a very different skill set to those which you've had to develop within your team thus far.

Ms Inman Grant : What I think has been great about the legislative and regulatory tools that we been given is that we've also been given a lot of discretion with how we are meant to apply that. I think we've shown restraint in terms of using that discretion. We haven't had any cases presented to us that would warrant, for instance, us issuing an end user notice against a child. But I don't think that is an insurmountable obstacle for us. We work with victims all the time. We do work with some perpetrators. What I like to remind people of—and I know you understand this—is: all of this online abuse is social and behavioural issues playing out in the technological sphere. We are actually talking about bad behaviour playing out online, so the human interaction and interface won't be different. It's a matter of getting the right people in the right roles with the right level of compassion and, in some cases maybe, the right amount of sternness in dealing with a perpetrator that will help us be successful in this realm.

Senator STEELE-JOHN: Exactly my line of thinking. Would you be able to provide the committee, or just my office, with a breakdown of the number of times you actually have dealt commission-to-perpetrator rather than commission-to-service? Would that be possible?

Ms Inman Grant : I will take that on notice, yes, of course.

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

CHAIR: Senator O'Neill, we've got about five minutes left before we should move to ACMA. Do you want to carry on?

Senator O'NEILL: Sure. Just a couple of quick ones to continue on Be Connected: was this program possible under your former remit as the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner?

Ms Inman Grant : We actually did receive the funding when we were still the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner. I believe the reasoning there was that we had shown success, frankly, in being able to develop online resources that were targeted to the audience that we were working with. ESafetyWomen is a perfect example of that. We were funded through the third action plan to develop the eSafetyWomen program, and we've now trained 4,000 frontline workers through that program. I think the government saw that we did have the right people and the knack for developing those, engaging online resources. We are only executing on a small portion of that overall effort. The Department of Social Services has really got major carriage of that program. For instance, they set up the mentoring network in the 2,000 organisations that Good Things Foundation Aus will be administering. We are partners with them in that, delivering the digital resources, and we've got instructional learners and lots of great resources there for them.

Senator O'NEILL: Could you provide on notice the breakdown of the $47 million, of which 16.9 is for you? The bulk of the work, you say, is with the Department of Social Services. Is the health and ageing department involved?

Ms Inman Grant : I will take that on notice.

Senator O'NEILL: Just basically who's in it and what skin they've got in the game in terms of dollars and capacity. That would be great on notice. I will have a couple more on notice regarding that, but I will go to 'loot boxes'. The World Health Organization is working to update the International Classification of Diseases, and the draft revision includes gaming disorder, based on reviews of evidence and consensus of experts. The next revision of the ICD is scheduled for publication in mid-2018. The inclusion of a disorder in ICD is a consideration which countries take into account when planning public health strategies and monitoring trend disorders. What steps, if any, are your office taking to address gaming disorder? What supports are there for adults and children around this disorder and it impact? Are you in contact with the Department of Health about these issues? Do you know how prevalent the disorder is in Australia.

Ms Inman Grant : I will take that on notice. We are announcing some online gaming strategy research that we just commissioned. That's ready to go very soon. If you look at our website, we just put up a whole new set of resources in response to online gaming and gambling, including loot boxes and what concerns parents should be aware of. I will take the rest of that on notice. We did work with the interactive gaming and education association, in terms of developing that content. As I've said, we looked at a whole body of research to inform the work that we're doing, including work with our sister organisation, the ACMA, who has carriage for interactive gambling.

Senator O'NEILL: Do you acknowledge that this gaming disorder exists?

Ms Inman Grant : No. I will take that on notice. I haven't seen any research to that effect to be able to make a comment.

Senator O'NEILL: It's the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. I'm sure that many parents might recognise these behaviours. It's:

… characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

You'd be familiar with descriptions of that sort of behaviour, I suppose.

Ms Inman Grant : Right, and there's been a lot of conflicting evidence around technology addiction, generally. That's why we have a research arm that's looking at that body of research and conducting our own so that we can make sure we're working from a very solid evidence base.

Senator O'NEILL: Do you believe that there are certain types of games, like games that contain that contain loot boxes, that contribute to problem behaviours, like this gaming disorder, by incentivising playing to continue.

Ms Inman Grant : I can tell you we've seen, with the recent research that is not yet released, that 60 per cent of teenagers, particularly boys, are playing interactive online games, and twenty per cent of them are experiencing some form of bullying. That has been the area that we've looked at. We haven't been looking specifically at online gaming addiction issues. I will have to take that on notice to come back to you. Obviously, we look at the body of evidence out there. If there are concerning trends that impact young people, old people or anyone in between, that's of concern to us.

CHAIR: Thank you very much, Ms Inman Grant, and thank you to all of you from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. That concludes the examination of this office. We'll now move to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.