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Cybersafety issues affecting children and young people

CHAIR —Welcome. Thank you for attending. Before proceeding, I remind you that this is a public hearing and it is being recorded for Hansard and broadcast. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I advise you that this hearing is a legal proceeding of the parliament and warrants the same respect as proceedings of the House and the Senate. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as contempt of the parliament. I invite you to make an opening statement before we move to questioning by committee members.

Ms Treyvaud —I thought I would give you a little bit of my background. I am here representing myself, although I work with many organisations in different capacities. I have been in education for over 30 years. Most of it was in the government sector. The last seven years of my teaching was as a curriculum and e-learning leader and head of school at Wesley College here in Melbourne. It was a laptop program. Even 10 years ago, many of the issues we are discussing today were starting to reveal themselves in the way the children in the school with their laptops were not managing the relationships very well and things were occurring out of the school environment that we were then expected to deal with as head of school in terms of welfare and in terms of how we addressed them in the curriculum.

I then left and became a senior consultant at the Centre for Strategic Education here in Melbourne. One of the first pieces of work that I did there was establishing a steering committee of interested parties around cybersafety—we called it ‘cybersafety’ then, but less so now. On that committee we had representatives from all the sectors: we had psychologists, someone from the Victorian police, industry representatives, ICT specialists et cetera. One of the tasks of that committee was to offer what we called the ‘Siberian embassy’, which was a symposium of all stakeholders around this country. We invited Martin Cocker from NetSafe in New Zealand and Marsali Hancock from the iKeepSafe coalition to come and speak. I developed the program for that. Everyone had 15 minutes and I made sure that between each of the adult speakers we had students talk about the wonderful life of being online. It was a really positive first day. On the second day all the participants stayed and we made some recommendations. It was semifunded by the Telstra Foundation at the time because cybersafety had been recognised as the spotlight issue. The main recommendation that came out of the symposium was that the symposium proposed the establishment of a national multidisciplinary and non-partisan cybersafety coalition. They wanted it to be a totally new entity, rather than dovetailing into the work of any other organisation. It was to have representatives who were ‘non-partisan and multidisciplinary’. So we had support from people who represented the Australian Federal Police. We had internet security industry people there including Anton van Deth from Symantec and Alistair McGibbon. They were all there, and that is what we wanted. This body would provide leadership and research capability and would become a centre of excellence.

With the support of that symposium group I was asked to work with some of those members to put forward a proposal to the Telstra Foundation for the development of that coalition, whatever that was going to be called. Also, we were modelling it a little bit on the iKeepSafe coalition model in the US, which is really successful. But it did not happen. The proposal was almost ready to be submitted and then I was informed, when I was in the United States, that it was not going to get up so that went by the by.

CHAIR —When was this?

Ms Treyvaud —This was in 2008, and I can table the report from the symposium. I do not think it has had wide distribution. So that is where that went. We kept moving collaboratively with individuals, groups and organisations, and I personally work very closely with Edith Cowan University’s Professor Donna Cross. As a result of that we have offered and delivered to students summits, including one in Perth on cyberfriendly schools. We offered one in Melbourne last year. We did it in collaboration with the education department here and it was called ‘Leading responsibly in the digital world’. We are offering the third one as partners with the ACT education department and we are calling it ‘Who are you in the digital world?’ We target year 9 and year 10 students. We work with them for the day. The focus is on leadership. Professor Cross chairs the research part of ‘Covert bullying’, the prevalence study. She talks about what the students have done, certainly as to the Perth one because that got a different funding stream. I then present with young people who we have called ‘networkers in action’ so there is a large focus on this: So now what? What are you going to do with the information that you have from today and beyond?

When the Telstra Foundation has provided funds to different community groups, I have been asked to work as a project consultant often delivering to their constituents but also advising—such as with the Loddon Mallee project for ethical digital citizens. We also have a research component attached to that but this is embargoed at the moment. We have some outstanding research undertaken by Dr Sophie Reid, who was mentioned earlier this morning. This actually covers a whole range of internet and mobile phone use rather than just focusing on a narrow topic. That is going to inform a lot of the work that will be done in that region.

I work also with Edith Cowan’s Cyber Friendly Schools advisory board and I am on the consultative working party for the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. I have been, together with a colleague, the lead writer for all the content for ACMA’s Cybersmart website. As a result of my self-funding trips to the US, the UK and the Asia-Pacific, I have a role with iKeepSafe and we are liaising very closely with governments globally about national approaches which bring in all the stakeholders.

We have partnered with the South West Grid for Learning on a framework called the 360 E-Safe School framework, which I am piloting here in Victoria next year. It is basically a rubric, and I can share it with you. It picks up the key pillars of e-safety not just within schools but in the community, so there is policy and leadership involved. One of the really big issues we have got in schools right now is demonstrating duty of care when the care often is in the virtual space even though physically they are with us but then the care is coming in from outside because of issues that are occurring. There is education. Education picks up on e-safety curriculum, embedded not stand alone. It picks up on staff training, parent education, community understanding and digital literacy. I was interested, Mr Fletcher, in your comment about being bombarded and overloaded with information, and that is an area that I am also heavily involved in. The teaching of digital literacy is absolutely critical to helping young people—and, dare I say it, adults—make sense of the millions and millions of pages out there on the web and how to be discerning users of it all. It picks up on infrastructure and it also picks up on e-safety accountability. For that we have developed an incident response tool which schools who register will be able to use. That is a bit of a snapshot of what I do.

CHAIR —Thank you for that. So you would be the expert and we would be able to ask you questions around the issue of cybersafety, particularly as to young people, and how we should address it?

Ms Treyvaud —Yes.

Senator PRATT —How adequate do you think the resources for schools are currently as we need to integrate a cybersafe and cyberfriendly environment into our school environment? How ad hoc are those resources when clearly there could be a role for government in auspicing something but at the same time you do not want to create something monolithic that is not going to be the right response? What should the policy architecture in this area look like?

Ms Treyvaud —The difficulty which was revealed in the evaluation of the 360 tool in the UK was that there is such a low understanding and awareness on the part of adults, including teachers, that they are very reluctant to deliver, and totally lack confidence in delivering, any curriculum around e-safety or site safety. If you go online and look for cybersafety teacher resources, you will come up with three million hits—and teachers do not know what is useful and what is not and how they embed it into their existing curriculum. One of the other pieces of work that I did a number of years ago was to draw out and filter all the content that was out there and give a CD-ROM to teachers to say this is what they needed to deliver curriculum. The work that they need to do, as well as thinking that this is an add-on, is to audit their existing curriculum pathways.

In answer to your question as to what existing curriculum is out there: it does not exist in Australia. Only recently in the US Common Sense Media have developed a scope and sequence around digital citizenship and digital literacy which is outstanding. They rolled it out in the US for years 6 to 8 initially—but being teachers we all dip into it and just tailor it to what we want. They have just released it for years 4 and 5. In my pilot next year we are going to be using, for the e-safety planned program, this scope and sequence and we are going to personalise it and localise it.

CHAIR —When you say it is your pilot—

Ms Treyvaud —As an individual but also in my role with iKeepSafe in the US and my work with the South West Grid for Learning Trust and Childnet, very closely. I have been contracted by schools to work with them over the last number of years, and what everyone has been crying out for is a whole-school approach to e-safety that picks up on those four pillars. They have come to me and said, ‘We would like to be part of your 360 rollout.’ I have seven independent schools here in Melbourne that I was already working with, and we are going to be piloting the use of 360, which is a whole-school approach. I also have the Sandhurst diocese up in the Bendigo-Loddon-Mallee region, and we are probably going to have about 15 schools there that are going to be piloting it.

CHAIR —Who is funding the pilot and the rollout?

Ms Treyvaud —They are.

CHAIR —The schools are?

Ms Treyvaud —Yes. The schools are funding theirs, Sandhurst diocese are supporting theirs, and today we will find out whether the Loddon-Mallee region are going to be part of a pilot as well.

CHAIR —And who is funding your research and putting together that program?

Ms Treyvaud —Some of the funds that I receive go to iKeepSafe for the online tool registration and R&D, and the evaluation of it is going to have to come out of my own funds.

CHAIR —The funding that you receive, is it government funding or private—

Ms Treyvaud —I am not receiving any government funding; it is all just private.

CHAIR —So who is funding it?

Ms Treyvaud —The schools.

CHAIR —So there is no—

Ms Treyvaud —There is no government involvement at all.

CHAIR —There are no internet service providers or other companies—

Ms Treyvaud —No.

CHAIR —So it is generated by the schools?

Ms Treyvaud —It is generated by me, and then I have gone to the schools and to the diocese and said: ‘Here’s a framework. Here is the online tool. I’ve got some screen captures for you.’ We just redeveloped the British one, which did receive significant funding from the British government in response to the Byron review and the Byron report.

CHAIR —Was that KidSafe?

Ms Treyvaud —That is the partnership with iKeepSafe and South West Grid for Learning. I am just offering it here. But I was not prepared to take it much broader. I was already working in the Sandhurst diocese, I am already working in the Loddon-Mallee education department region and I am already working with these seven schools. They have all said: ‘We’re ready to do something different. We want something that is simple, that is easy to navigate and that goes beyond just one area of cybersafety; for example, cyberbullying. We want something that ticks all our boxes.’

CHAIR —Are you saying that in Australia at the moment there is nothing available as far as the curriculum goes? We have heard otherwise from a number of witnesses that have appeared before us. We understand also that ACMA, which you have worked with, actually has on its website—and I myself have gone through and looked at the work and have spoken to schools that are using the work—curriculum materials available.

Ms Treyvaud —Yes. There are units of work, but we actually set up a different sort of model. It is not a scope and sequence necessarily. What I intend to do with the Common Sense Media curriculum is to push into it the ACMA units of work, because the ACMA units of work focus on issues—cyberbullying, inappropriate contents and privacy things—and so does Common Sense Media.

The Common Sense Media curriculum is enriched by having videos of young people talking to other young people around things—let’s say digital footprints and your privacy. It comes with a video of adults, including researchers, briefing the teachers and parents about this whole issue. It comes with lesson plans; it comes with student handouts. The student handout is created for teachers as well. It basically provides the scaffolding for teachers.

CHAIR —This is the Common Sense Media one?

Ms Treyvaud —It is the Common Sense Media one, and it is free.

CHAIR —That is already available in North America?

Ms Treyvaud —It is already available. We are using the Australian government Quality Teaching program model, so each of the schools that are involved in the pilot will come to a workshop once a term. I go and work with them closely, as I always have been, and we will be redeveloping materials and things.

CHAIR —And there is no sponsorship for the pilot?

Ms Treyvaud —I have not gone anywhere to seek it.

CHAIR —So you are doing it all off your own bat. This inquiry is looking at the issue of cybersafety generally. I am sure you have looked at the terms of reference. Specifically at the moment we are looking at young people.

Ms Treyvaud —Yes.

CHAIR —What, in your view, should the role be of community, government and even the ISP providers, the technology providers be playing to ensure the safety of our young people?

Ms Treyvaud —The more we can localise it the more effective it is going to be. I have just completed the first phase of another pilot with the Melbourne Football Club. They work very closely with the City of Casey. We have offered workshops for teachers and for students and then we are going to have a showcase because the contribution of young people is absolutely critical to anything we do. I find working with young people, as I do a lot of the time, they have a lot to offer us but one of the real handicaps to us developing those authentic partnerships is that they do not talk about the issues the way we do. We have labelled them to help us understand what it is all about. I think Professor Cross’s work was a good example of that because, while she talked about covert bullying, she also undertook focus group research about the behaviours.

If you ever, as I do, ask young people to talk about cyberbullying they go, ‘What? I have never been cyberbullied.’ If you ask, ‘Have you ever had rumours spread about you? Have you ever been excluded?’ They go, ‘Oh yes.’ I say, ‘Under this definition that would be considered bullying behaviour.’ We have much to learn from them and they have much to learn from us.

From my work around cybersafety I think we focus far too much on the technology and not on the decisions being made which are enhancing someone’s lives, friendships or information acquisition. I talk a lot about the moral compass. The real test of a moral compass is what you do when no-one is watching. I find young people buy into that because no-one is with them physically. I would like to talk a bit about the whole parent education and parents’ roles in a minute. No-one is with them physically when they are on their computers or on their mobile phones. No-one is holding them accountable for their actions, which might be harming someone else or might even be harming themselves. A little moral compass has different levels or directions on it. The one which drives a lot of the antisocial and mean behaviour by young people is, ‘I’m not going to get caught,’ and they are not. I used to spend hours investigating incidents that had come to my attention as the head of school. Unless you had a little singing canary who shared it with you, you would never find out who was involved in offences online.

Those young people who are being bullied physically and feel totally powerless go online feeling totally empowered. So often the bully is the bullied in the face-to-face environment. That is something I do not think people are aware of. There are more young people who are bystanders to both online and offline but the drifting nature of bullying means that there is a very good chance that those being bullied at school, after they go onto hotmail or jump on Club Penguin or whatever it might be, are going to give you a hard time because we know that the bullying and the meanness is coming not from strangers; it is actually coming from friends.

Senator PRATT —In the context of that duty of care, you have the school but you also have state and federal governments. From a federal government point of view, we debate cybersafety but the physical duty of care for students is really perceived in general to be a state matter, whether it should be or not.

Ms Treyvaud —I know.

Senator PRATT —Therefore from a public policy point of view in putting a program together really you need to integrate cyber-safety with physical safety and try to create the parallels between the two. How do we avoid getting caught up in the bureaucracy of all that and drive down to that local empowerment you are talking about?

Ms Treyvaud —I suppose as I have evolved in this work I think at the school level, for example, we have got to talk more about responsible use policies and not acceptable use policies, because acceptable terms to be perceived—

Senator PRATT —Lowest common denominator.

Ms Treyvaud —Also a bit paternalistic and a generational issue. We need to be developing with the young people in our communities and our schools codes of conduct that are age appropriate. New Zealand’s NetSafe organisation have got outstanding codes of conduct which I often recommend for schools to use as a starting point to go and develop them with the students.

Senator PRATT —How do they integrate physical safety and cyber-safety in those codes of conduct?

Ms Treyvaud —There are similarities and differences. I know that in the education department advice that is given they talk about it as being just like basically playground duty, but it is not, because you are not physically there. You can observe the sorts of things that might be going on. So there are some similarities and differences. On duty of care, if you have got your technology being used by students in your school and they have bypassed your firewalls and your filters using proxies, you do not know where they are. That compromises your duty of care. As in the UK, they found schools are very good at blocking and setting up really tight networks. The reality is that I can walk into any school and say to the students, ‘What proxy are you using this morning?’ They are actually leaving us, not physically, but they are actually leaving us. So if as a head of school you get a transcript of an email or a posting on Facebook that was left at two o’clock in the afternoon, then that happened on my watch. That has a significant impact. Of all the areas schools are struggling with and are incredibly nervous about, it is this whole demonstrating duty of care when you are offering laptops, iPads and very rich technology.

Again, a lot of the policies and codes of conduct that we say young people need, so do staff and so do parents. The parents in this whole space around policies and codes of conduct have a role to play as well because what we have got to encourage them to do, and against Common Sense Media have got the best media agreements that are age appropriate that I have seen. We also have to get parents to set some boundaries and some guidelines, codes of conduct about how you are going to use technology at home, but they need help to do that. The paradigm of educating parents where you expect them all to come out on an information night is just not working. I know Edith Cowan are finding that as well.

Senator PRATT —So if you say, ‘Let’s help support schools with cyber-safety,’ how do you prevent that from being just another burden on them?

Ms Treyvaud —It is how you frame it.

Senator PRATT —They have already got to do that physical duty of care for their students, they know this is an emerging area. It would seem silly to me just to say, ‘Right, we are going to target cyberbullying’, otherwise it will just become another layer. How can we integrate duty of care in a holistic sense?

Ms Treyvaud —We have to frame it differently.

Senator PRATT —How would you frame it differently?

Ms Treyvaud —Digital citizenship. I will tell you why.

Senator PRATT —But isn’t it citizenship as a whole rather than just digital citizenship?

Ms Treyvaud —That is exactly what it is. It is citizenship, but you are citizens of the world, or a global citizen, and that means digital and other. What we need to do is talk about what it means to be a responsible, respectful, ethical and, sometimes, resilient citizen. Sometimes that citizenship is played out on Facebook or wherever they are doing it. I hear this all the time from schools. If you are asking us to add one more thing to our already crowded curriculum, we just do not have the capacity to do that. We do not have enough professional learning associated with it, and we have teachers who do not really understand it et cetera. If, however, we support them with resources to embed it into their existing curriculum, plus we provide them with meaningful professional learning opportunities—and sometimes the professional learning opportunities have to be facilitated by the young people.

Senator PRATT —To my mind many of the schools have quite well-developed citizenship programs, but cybersafety is off ‘over here’. So you are arguing that cybersafety needs to be made mainstream within citizenship as a whole.

Ms Treyvaud —Yes. Also, when schools undertake the audit of the 360 e-safety framework, for example—there are five levels—they actually find that they are sitting on level 2 or 3 anyway. So all of a sudden they realise, ‘We’re doing a lot of what should be done anyway; we don’t have to reinvent the wheel here.’

Mr FLETCHER —On the competing pressures on school curriculums that you talked about, Ms Treyvaud, how does education on cybersafety get weighed up with financial literacy, road safety or the wide range of other things that schools are under pressure to add to the curriculum on top of maths, English, science, geography et cetera?

Ms Treyvaud —I think that, even within our existing subject domains and our existing programs, there are ways that you can authentically integrate cybersafety or citizenship, be that digital or otherwise, into it. For example, you cannot talk about digital citizenship without talking about digital ethics. In every subject domain, for example, whether it is science, maths or other literacies, you have to talk about plagiarism; you have to talk about approaches to research. So digital literacies and digital ethics are an integral component of the whole digital citizenship area. I think schools are already committed to doing something but they need more support, whether it be resources or whether it be professional learning. The other thing that I see, which is why I was really very pleased to be offering this opportunity for schools to jump on board 360, is that everything they are doing is very random. They have a parent education session here and they get one-tenth of their parents, but what do they do with the rest of them? Some year levels in a primary school might use all the ACMA resources, which is stunning, but then nothing happens the following year. So where is your scope and sequence?

The school leadership has to really take some role and responsibility in saying, ‘We are committed to this; we offer technology to our children in our school in partnership with the wider community and especially our parents. We will work together to make sure, as best we can, that our children are responsible, respectful and ethical users of the technology and, as far as their resilience is concerned, we are going to respond appropriately and effectively. The sanctions are going to be appropriate and have been developed in partnership with these young people.’ A lot of the teams I work with say that the sanctions are totally inappropriate. One of the sanctions might be: ‘You are not allowed to use the network for a week because you committed an offence.’ They just borrow someone else’s user name and password, because they all share passwords. I agree with you that the great challenge is that it should not just be schools saying, ‘We’re the only ones that should be doing something.’ It is actually the whole community, and together we do something.

Mr FLETCHER —You spoke before about particular applications like Facebook, and I think you mentioned Penguin, which is one I have not heard of—

Ms Treyvaud —Yes, Club Penguin.

Mr FLETCHER —What would you say is the rough breakdown of the main applications or devices that are being used? If I were asked to hypothesise, not knowing the area nearly as well as you do, I would have said it was 50 per cent mobile phones and SMS, 40 per cent Facebook and MySpace, 10 per cent Skype and zero per cent email. Given that you know the area, what would you say?

Ms Treyvaud —Let us remember one thing about Facebook: you have to be at least 13 years of age to go on it. From my work, and that is supported by research out there, we know that there are seven-, eight-, nine- and 10-year-olds all on Facebook because there is no age verification mechanism—and that would be global. I have just come from working in Hong Kong and I also know that from my work here in schools. I always ask year 4s, ‘How many of you have got Facebook?’ and I get 98 per cent. The other two per cent are probably not putting up their hands because they will get into trouble. I think Facebook would be the No. 1 activity, remembering that so many young people have browsing capacity on their mobile phones—and I want to draw attention to one of the issues around mobile phones a little later. So it would be Facebook and then mobile phones from early secondary up, because parents usually hold back on giving their children mobile phones until they go to high school.

CHAIR —Sorry, we are going to have to wind up. You have a couple of minutes, so you can continue with that and add anything you want.

Ms Treyvaud —I wanted to draw your attention to one of the really big issues that communities are dealing with, and many, many thousands if not millions of young people, and that is sexting, where young people are using their mobile phones to take sexualised images of themselves. In the process, they are committing an offence, which is child pornography. Some are being charged, and there are not just legal consequences but also non-legal consequences, such as total humiliation et cetera. I have copies of a video that was made by the CentaCare Loddon-Mallee project around sexting, which has a study guide that I developed with the same colleague. So these are for you.

CHAIR —They are for the committee?

Ms Treyvaud —Yes.

CHAIR —Thank you. Now, the thing about mobile phones is that the proliferation of mobile phone use in the teen years is just enormous, and they are sending hundreds if not thousands of texts a day. What we have noticed with parental moderation of behaviours, including use of the mobile phone, is that often those antisocial behaviours are moderated. For example, if I am the parent and I manage the mobile phone of my child, my child is less likely to sext: three per cent of children whose parents manage their mobile phone accounts have sent a sext.

CHAIR —I would just like to welcome Amanda Rishworth to the committee via teleconference. Can you hear us?

Ms RISHWORTH —Hello. Yes, I can hear you.

CHAIR —Good. Ms Rishworth is the member for Kingston, in South Australia. Amanda, we are talking to our witness Ms Treyvaud and we will be concluding in a few minutes.

Ms Treyvaud —I want to touch on the subject of moderation, because mobile phones are probably the No. 1 area in which parents can have an influence. When you talk to teenagers about sexting, they say, ‘Oh, we all do that.’ It has become a normalised behaviour in adolescent culture. The internet research that has come from the Pew Research Centre has found that 17 per cent of teenagers who send those sorts of images to people they know and trust manage their own mobile phone accounts, usually prepaids. Of the children whose parents manage their mobile phone accounts, only three per cent have sent those sorts of images to someone else—and of course they go viral very quickly. That is telling us that, even though the parents might not be physically in that space with those teenagers, saying, ‘You shouldn’t be doing that; you don’t know who’ll get it,’ et cetera, the fact that the parents could potentially find out moderates the behaviour of those children.

Senator PRATT —In terms of perception, parents might think that prepaid is a better way of limiting their child’s mobile phone use because they know that their child is going to run out of usage. They think they are doing the right thing to moderate use—

Ms Treyvaud —Yes, they do.

Senator PRATT —but in fact the opposite is true.

Ms Treyvaud —Certainly at the teenage years—absolutely. That is something that parents need to be aware of and negotiate around. What I do not think happens terribly well here is that we are not getting the research out to parents that is not necessarily carried out here. EU Kids Online is the most current research and that was published in the past month. That was a really significant piece of work for a number of reasons. It showed very substantial underestimation by parents of what their children are experiencing. They surveyed young people with one of their parents. That is the first time we saw cross-generational information.

CHAIR —Why is it that with prepaid, in your opinion, the child is likely to override their parents’ requests?

Ms Treyvaud —Of course, it is most appropriate for younger children—there is no doubt about that—because parents can moderate the amount of money they are spending. Children are signing up for all sorts of things that they are told are free and then it costs them $3 a day.

CHAIR —Is it that they are more cautious if it is not prepaid? Is that the only difference?

Ms Treyvaud —To some degree. What we have found with teenagers especially is that, if the parents still have some semblance of control over mobile phone usage or can access the account details, they will see images sent and received.

Senator PRATT —In a sense, a parent will want to limit the amount of money that a child spends in a month and the only way to do that currently is through a prepaid account, rather than saying, ‘We can have a telephone contract and $50 a month is going to be your absolute maximum, and when that runs out it runs out.’ In that way they are still able to monitor it.

CHAIR —They still get the details.

Senator PRATT —Yes. They are sent an account with a list of whom the text messages have been sent to.

Ms Treyvaud —Correct. We can extrapolate that even further. In schools where students know that there is a history or a logging record of where they have been and what they have been doing, it moderates behaviour. They do not do those things—

Senator PRATT —So, in a sense, there is a gap in the market for mobile phone companies to sell a parent-friendly product.

Ms Treyvaud —Absolutely.

CHAIR —We will have to end it there. We have gone over time. Thank you so much for attending today and giving your evidence. If the committee has any further questions, the secretariat may seek further comment from you at a later date. We appreciate the material that you have left for the secretariat.

Proceedings suspended from 12.13 pm to 1.01 pm