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More than 100,000 Australian families using NetAlert filters after the first six weeks.



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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Media Release

Media Contact Frank Peppard: 0417 061 969

www.minister.dcita.gov.au

162/07 Thursday 18 October 2007

More than 100,000 Australian families using NetAlert filters after the first six weeks

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan announced today that over 100,000 families have taken up free internet protection software under the Australian Government’s NetAlert - Protecting Australian Families Online.

“I am pleased that more than 100,000 families have responded to the Coalition Government’s offer of free PC-based internet filtering in only the first six weeks of the programme,” said Senator Coonan.

During the same period, more than a quarter of a million people have visited the NetAlert website which has important online safety information and additional resources.

“The Howard Government has a serious commitment to protecting our children when using the internet and that’s why we have rolled out the broadest possible line of attack to protect Australian families online,” said Senator Coonan.

“The $189 million NetAlert initiative is a comprehensive programme combining technology, education, awareness and advice, regulation and tough policing to ensure that Australian families can get the best of the internet, whilst minimising potential for harm.”

One part of the multi-faceted programme is the National Filter Scheme, which provides the best available filtering technology free to every Australian family.

In addition to the PC-based filters, the trials for mandatory ISP-level filtering, which will also be provided free of charge under the National Filter Scheme, are currently underway.

“Despite the enormous value of using technical solutions such as filtering, parents should be aware that no single measure alone can protect children from online harm and in fact, traditional parenting skills have never been more important,” said Senator Coonan.

“I encourage parents to use the full range of resources offered by NetAlert to develop internet safety strategies for their children.

“These resources include information provided through the education programme, particularly through the NetAlert booklet which has been distributed to families across the country and the use of the NetAlert website and helpline for free one-on-one advice about online safety.

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“The Coalition Government has delivered on our commitment to Australian families to do all we can to make the online experience safer and to arm parents with practical support.

“By contrast, Labor has consistently failed to treat the issue of internet safety seriously as far back as 1999 when Mr Rudd and his colleagues voted against legislation that established a new regime to remove offensive content from the internet and importantly, create offences for the publication and transmission of proscribed material, such as child

pornography.

“Despite his veneer of belonging to the internet generation, Mr Rudd has demonstrated time and again that he won’t support Coalition Government action to help families get the best out of the internet whilst protecting them from the risk of online predators and other harm.

“I am also pleased to let families know that the extra $43.5 million announced by the Prime Minister for the Australian Federal Police’s Online Child Sex Exploitation Team (OCSET) has provided an immediate boost with more than half of the 36 new members set to be recruited, trained and fully operational by January 2008.

“By 2009, OCSET will have over 124 AFP officers dedicated to protecting children and preventing child sex exploitation via the internet.

“The job of the police officers who work in the OCSET is not easy and often involves posing as young children online in order to track down and prosecute predators. But the AFP’s role in monitoring websites, email traffic and other electronic networks is critical if we are to protect our children who increasingly rely on the internet to educate and entertain.

“Sadly, Labor has once again abandoned families when it comes to online protection and there is not one dollar in their internet policy for the online policing work of the AFP.

“The Coalition Government has made online safety a feature of our broader support for families and there is no doubt that Australia now leads the world in online safety,” Senator Coonan said.

NetAlert website: www.australia.gov.au/netalert

NetAlert helpline: 1800 880 176

Not for publication

Senator Coonan will speak about online safety at the Hornsby Shire Council Social Networking Sites Parents’ Forum at Hornsby RSL this evening.