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Cybersafety issues affecting children and young people

CHAIR —We now resume the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety public hearing in Hobart. I would like to welcome representatives from Roar Film Pty Ltd to the table. Thank you for attending. Before proceeding I would like to remind you that this is a public hearing and it is being recorded by Hansard and audio broadcast. Although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, I should 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 a contempt of parliament. At the conclusion of your evidence would you please ensure Hansard has had the opportunity to clarify any matters with you? Would you like to make an opening statement?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes. If it is okay with the committee we actually had a written statement which we will read from. It is about two and a half minutes, if that is okay.

CHAIR —Please proceed.

Mr Dow Sainter —Thank you. Roar Educate develops education software, exemplary e-learning for schools across kindergarten to grade 12. Roar Educate is the education division of Roar Film Pty Ltd, the acclaimed Australian film and multimedia production company based in Tasmania. Foremost our education division, Roar Educate, is established in the UK, where the modules celebrating Us and Us Online are already licensed to 43 per cent of the English government schools, which is approximately 10,500 schools, reaching about four million children. Us Online, our cybersafeguarding software, simulates elements of the online world to give learners authentic experiences of online situations. The modules are media rich education resources that immerse children in the culture of their online world, allowing learners to safely experiment with choices and consequences. Through our range of modules we cater to all age groups and their teachers across K to 12. For each activity we provide full teacher resources including lesson plans, walk throughs and background information.

We have reversioned the four Us Online modules for Australian schools and last month the modules were licensed to the Department of Education in Tasmania for use by all Tasmanian state schools. We have commenced discussions with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, ACMA, on the possibility of licensing these modules for all Australian schools available via the ACMA cybersafeguarding website. Additionally, we have been working with the Alannah and Madeline Foundation to map Us Online to their eSmart framework.

Since 2009 Roar has been contracted to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to develop its cybersecurity education package called the Budd:e E-Security Builder. Budd:e is interactive modules for primary and secondary students that have been rolled out to every Australian school. Budd:e also won Best Children’s Interactive Media at the 2010 AIMIA awards, which are the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association awards. Currently, Roar is in the throes of redeveloping these modules to incorporate general cybersafety messages and comprehensive teacher resources to support teacher professional learning. The release is to coincide with this year’s national Cyber Security Awareness Week.

We are also working with the Australian Catholic University and the Wesley Institute to trial internationally competitive teacher education and continuing professional development about cybersafeguarding and risk management. This professional development will in total form a fully accredited higher education unit that can be incorporated into a masters of education. Our view of the future is probably best summarised in the new development, Us Online Next Generation, which we are building in partnership with our UK development partner, the London Grid for Learning. The London Grid for Learning is the UK broadband consortium serving the 2,500 London government schools. Us Online Next Generation is an online school based system to promote digital citizenship and implement the statutory duty to cybersafeguard. Us Online Next Generation will enable the safe, ethical and responsible use of digital technologies by all parties across the school communities. A tripartite approach between students, teachers and staff, and parents.

We fully support and applaud the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart initiative, which has been picked up by Victoria and Queensland, as it is a key to both awareness and cultural change within schools, but we do not believe that the eSmart initiative in isolation can bring about the holistic approach required by schools to manage cybersafeguarding risk management on a day-to-day basis. We believe that eSmart needs to be complemented by the Us Online Next Generation system or like. I have prepared a handful of slides, if the committee would care, to give you an idea what Us Online Next Generation looks like and what it does.

CHAIR —We would appreciate that. Can I ask that because we are being audio broadcast you actually describe the slides that we are seeing and their relevance?

Mr Dow Sainter —Of course.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Mr Dow Sainter —Okay. The slides that we are seeing really are the makeup of what Roar is proposing in Us Online Next Generation and what we are actually building in the UK and proposing for Australia. We look at four main groups. The initial group that we look at is children. What is in it for them? We believe that children need to be kept abreast of current issues as they become relevant in the cybersafeguarding and, if you like, e-citizenship area; that they have activities that actually are simulations to deliver learning outcomes against all these issues. We do not take a very narrow approach to cybersafeguarding. We see it as a digital literacy and a life skill rather than just an IT issue. Beyond that we also believe that what is missing—and this is from the experience of being, for five years, the largest commercial provider of cybersafeguarding solutions in the UK—is actually a benchmark or a standard for ethical and responsible use. It is not just about protecting yourself, it is about your use of it as well. We need to assess against these benchmarks.

For teachers and staff—and that is an omission from this slide—we look at teachers. Again, they need to be brought up to date on weekly updates on issues that are relevant to them as teaching professionals or school managers. They need professional development from just simple resources, whether they be video or webinars, and we are also suggesting right through to the ability to actually do a unit in a masters of education. They also have activities for themselves for eight-year-olds and upwards that they can actually deploy in the classroom but also are useful for teachers to actually understand the issue from a teacher’s perspective, not just a child’s perspective, because there are particular issues there. That says ‘year eight’; it is meant to be ‘eight years’. I apologise for that.

The parents, carers and the community are the third part of where we see needs to be taken care of—not taken care of, but actually addressed. Again, parents need to be brought up to speed on the issues. They need resources so that they can engage with their children and actually have intelligent discussions about this, whether they be videos or issue based PDFs. An issue might be online identity, social networking, security settings and so on. Again, we have created resources for parents so that they can actually have simulations to interact with their eight-year-old and up—so eight to 16 generally.

Then it is the school leadership, and this is where we take up on the eSmart initiative, which we totally concur with. It is about cultural change. We also believe that the school leadership, whether they be principals in Australia or head teachers in the UK, need the resources and the tools and the reporting framework. So, for school principals we again have weekly updates. We have templates for safeguarding, incident management, reporting and acceptable use policies—well handled by Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s eSmart.

How does this work as a system? The students are assessed against benchmarks. Their progress and results are reported to teachers, either in individual or aggregated format. It is reported to the parents to stimulate parent engagement about where their children are at and whether they are actually understanding the issues and responsible use. It also can be used by the principal to gauge not just where their school is at in terms of becoming the eSmart school, but also how many of their teachers and students have actually gone through this development.

CHAIR —Just on that issue—

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes.

CHAIR —So we are saying that principals receive student, class and school reports. Can you just explain—I am just thinking—how much time this would take up for teachers to carry this out?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes. We want to make it basically push button. Where this came from is that in the UK you have Ofsted—now actually since February 2009. Ofsted is, if you like, the government inspectorate of schools. From February 2009 they have made it mandatory that they will inspect against cybersafeguarding. This was a way for head teachers—as principals are known in the UK—to spit out a report saying: ‘X number of my students have actually gone through this education process. They have been assessed. These are the results. This is where my teachers and staff are at with their professional development.’ It is not a manual system; it is a full online integrated system.

CHAIR —Can you just talk us through how this would actually operate? You have a class of student. Take us from there.

Mr Dow Sainter —I have a class of students, and this can also be accessed from home by the students and the parents, obviously. We have an activity on online identity and understanding the issues there in protecting not only your own identity but the identity of your friends and colleagues. The student actually goes through a simulation, which would be difficult to actually show in an audio format. They go through a simulation which, for instance, might replicate choosing a photograph, name and your friends in a Facebook sense. They do that simulation to deliver learning outcomes and then they actually go through an assessment to assess whether they actually understand the issues that are relevant to that.

CHAIR —Who goes through the assessment?

Mr Dow Sainter —The student.

CHAIR —The student does?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes.

Ms Standish —The learner generally. It could be the parent, in fact, and in order to complete the activity they actually have to get it right. So they keep being pushed back until they make the correct selection.

CHAIR —So the student has completed it. What happens now?

Mr Dow Sainter —The results of that are tracked within the system, whether it be the teacher doing professional development or the student doing this particular assessment.

CHAIR —When you say they are tracked, does the student send it back to the teacher or does the program—

Mr Dow Sainter —It is all done online, so it automatically goes to a central database.

CHAIR —And the school then collates that information; is that right?

Mr Dow Sainter —The school does not need to collate it. The system actually does that. It is a risk management system that actually collates all those reports and you can interrogate the database on a single student basis, an issue basis, a professional development—

Ms Standish —It is not qualitative data that it is collecting. It is basically recognising that the learner, whether it is the teacher or the student, has completed a particular activity successfully.

CHAIR —So then, say, principals receive student, class and school reports, so it generates a school report that goes to the principal?

Ms Standish —That is right.

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes, or it can be on a district level or even a state or nation level if required.

CHAIR —Would it be on each individual student or can you frame that?

Mr Dow Sainter —It can be interrogated as an individual, a class or an age group within the school, because issues of cybersafeguarding are difficult to actually pigeon hole to particular age groups in that area.

Ms Standish —So the report, in kind of lay terms, means that you will have against a person, for example, that they might have completed activities around protecting their identity, about setting up a social networking site safely, about protecting their devices against malware and viruses and so on. The way the activities are structured is that the learning is contained within that and so in order to complete that activity they will have to get the right answers.

CHAIR —And this is available currently, but it is only available through schools—is that right?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes. What we have actually got to at this stage is that all of those activities exist. What we have not actually built together and we are building in the UK now is the actual reporting framework to bring this all together. We have started on our resources—these interactive simulations—for parents as well. We are probably about three to six months away from final.

CHAIR —So they are not actually available at the moment?

Mr Dow Sainter —The resources are. That is what the Tasmanian Department of Education have. We are talking about taking the existing activities and then building them into an assessment reporting framework.

CHAIR —Are they only available through schools at this stage?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes. We have only been dealing with the departments of education and the independent and Catholic sectors.

Ms Standish —But we have been talking to ACMA about possibilities there for them licensing the modules, and one of the options there would be that they would be publicly available. That is, of course, what we would like to see happen.

Mr Dow Sainter —We are familiar with a lot of the ACMA content because it is the same content that is used in the UK through CEOP and Childnet and from Hector’s World in New Zealand. ACMA actually liked the simulation approach that Roar was taking, rather than issues based and then multiple choice answers, which are questionable in their effectiveness in delivering learning outcomes.

CHAIR —Thank you. Would you like to continue.

Mr Dow Sainter —Assessment against benchmarks—reporting to the parent is important. The holy grail that we are noticing in the UK is where the head teacher or principal in the UK of a government school is the legal entity; it is actually getting parents to take some responsibility. The vast majority of cyberincidents that actually take place take place using private or home based technologies, whether they be mobile phones or the brother’s, sister’s, their own or their parents’, computer in the house, yet the social connections are those made at the school. It is kind of a little strange in some respects that the parents first phone the head teacher or the principal of the school and ask them to deal with the issue. We see it as really key that we provide resources to help parents actually educate themselves about these issues.

CHAIR —Which brings me to my first question—

Mr Dow Sainter —Good.

CHAIR —on the issue of parents. Very often we have a situation that the parents that you need to speak to—the ones that perhaps do not have the information, whose child could benefit through the parents having the information—are the ones that you do not reach. How do you actually get a situation where you are able to have parents in this situation access the information that they need?

Ms Standish —There will always be some parents who are perhaps ill equipped to be helping their children in this arena. We know that, but I think generally parents want to do the right thing by their children and, as you say, it is simply not having information that is provided in an accessible form to them in an easy form and that somehow integrates with the schooling that they are doing, which is why we think the relationship around this subject between school and home is so critical, especially because, as Mr Dow Sainter points out, the technology is building a stronger bridge between home and the school environment.

One of the things we are noticing here in Tasmania—and I daresay this is reflected across Australia—is that there is a real shift in schools now from lockdown systems to opening up their school environments. We now have schools here that positively encourage children to bring their own technology to school and to make use of it at school, because this is a positive aid to learning and it is a great thing. It engages kids that have previously been disaffected. Parents are providing that technology in the home environment. Again, that is an opportunity, if you like, to bring parents into the fold. It is a matter of providing schools with resources that enable them to easily communicate with homes and families.

Mr Dow Sainter —I totally concur with Ms Standish that there is no panacea out there, but I think that, with early identification of a child who is not getting the message and is continuously using connected technologies in a malicious way even though they have gone through the education, by actually having some reporting about that we can identify that student earlier and then there is a chance for, if you like, an outreach with the parents and that child as well. Again, a lot of the resources out there for parents at the moment assume a degree of technical savviness which may or may not exist, so I think you really have to take it from very much a lower level and build up from there.

CHAIR —The committee has had a number of public hearings and a lot of information provided to us—a lot of evidence and opinions put forward—and so when we do ask questions they are not necessarily questions that are based on our views but just trying to receive your response in relation to information that has been provided to us. On that point, with respect to students signing off on a contract in a school, before they are able to access technology in a school they have to agree to abide by the school’s policy on technology and parents have to also sign off on that policy. It has been suggested that perhaps there needs to be some sort of parental training tied to signing off on that policy, and it was also put that very often it is the parents who are saying to their children, ‘You need to get this done; this is part of your responsibility,’ whereas this would put the reverse into the situation where to actually have access to the computer or technology the children would be saying to the parents, ‘You really need to come and do this session at school, because I can’t use it until you do.’ How would you respond to that?

Ms Standish —As a parent I think children can be very persuasive, yes. That is a very interesting way of viewing it, is it not?

Mr Dow Sainter —I think it is a positive thing. Again, I do not think it is a panacea, but I think that would be a real pickup. Also, if the quality of the materials provided to that parent session is one focused at a level that is going to be relevant to the audience and actually interesting and can be done fairly briefly too—because I guess time would be an issue—then absolutely. I think it is a wonderful idea. We have partnered with Adobe and the Tasmanian Electronic Commerce Centre to do some free parental seminars—if you like, online webinars—about cybersafeguarding for parents. We are really dipping the toe in the water to see where the level is at. Because for some parents, they are so media savvy and aware of these issues that it will actually fall below their expectations, but for others it will be well above. Conceptually I think it is a great idea.

CHAIR —The first recommendation in your submission is that cybersafety education needs to be mandated and supported in real ways. Could you speak to that?

Ms Standish —We prepared this submission 12 months ago. I suppose we are taking a soft view of the term ‘mandating’ and it refers, if you like, to a system such as the one we have just described where—

Mr Dow Sainter —And you will see as benchmarks, too.

Ms Standish —Yes, and the system such as we have described, where there is an acknowledged system framework for schools, homes and students to tackle this problem together and the assessment occurs against benchmarks so everybody knows where they stand and what they are aiming at.

CHAIR —Do you see it as part of the whole curriculum or do you see it in addition to the curriculum, like cybersafety—

Ms Standish —It has to be across the whole curriculum. I think we have moved beyond the days of having this pegged just in ICT. There are computers used in every class for every different subject, broadly speaking, so the issues of cybersafety and security surely are right across the school curriculum anyway.

CHAIR —If you are talking about right across the curriculum—and so you are talking about throughout the school day—how do you ensure that each teacher has the necessary skills and information to deliver that?

Ms Standish —It is a matter of management for individual schools to make that decision about how they wish to implement it in their school, and I think that is where both the eSmart framework and the kind of model that we are proposing come in. It leaves a huge amount of discretion up to school principals or school leadership teams as to how they wish to implement that within their own school. The point is that every member of staff, whether they are teaching staff or ancillary staff, and every student at some point needs to become familiar with the learning content that is provided and to tick off against a series of agreed benchmarks. It is pretty simple.

CHAIR —With new teachers, would you see that as part of a compulsory unit in the teacher training?

Ms Standish —It could well be.

Mr Dow Sainter —In fact, with the masters of education it should actually be used in preservice as well as in-service professional development.

CHAIR —How do you reach teachers who are experienced valuable teachers in our system who are not particularly computer savvy themselves?

Ms Standish —That is an issue for schools anyway, I dare say.

Mr Dow Sainter —If we take a fairly twee example, a history teacher who is asking students of their class to do an online research project. That history teacher really needs to understand some of the cybersafeguarding and e-citizenship issues around online research, which include copyright, plagiarism and those kinds of issues. If you have a system that you have been through the eSmart, which has culturally changed the school so that this is everybody’s problem, and then you have an integrated system that is tracking whether the professional development has taken place, it is doable from that point of view.

CHAIR —In your view, that would be through in-service professional development?

Mr Dow Sainter —In-service professional development, absolutely, yes.

Ms Standish —Which hopefully would not be an onerous burden on schools at all.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Mr ZAPPIA —Thank you for the presentation. In your submission you talk about the work you are doing in the UK, and I understand that over 40 per cent of the public schools have adopted your program there and it has also been a program that has received extensive recognition and commendation. Has there been any analysis carried out as to whether those schools which have adopted the program are in fact experiencing less cyberbullying?

Mr Dow Sainter —The short answer to that is no. The programs that we have actually got in the 10,500 schools in the UK are just the activity modules alone. They are not what we are suggesting here as an integrated system. In fact, your question is one of the motivators that we have the reasons that we went through this development and the reason that we support eSmart, because part of eSmart is looking backwards to then move forward. We see that this gives quantitative as well as qualitative data on, basically, this question: are we hitting the mark and effecting behavioural change? It is about behavioural change. I kind of shoot myself in the foot here, but the reality of putting, if you like, interactive modules into a classroom and hoping that a child will get learning outcomes from it and hoping that the message sinks in is, I think, a crazy way to proceed. But Roar, ACMA, DBCDE and our competitors in the UK continue to do this, and I think that without actually being able to ascertain whether the learning outcome has been achieved and whether you have actually changed behaviour, which can only be done over time and with reporting, it is crazy to proceed.

Senator BARNETT —Thank you for being here. From what I know and understand you are a bit of a Tasmanian success story as a company and I am aware of some of your past activities and congratulate you on that and your success in the UK and elsewhere; it is really good. How many have you got working in your operation now and are there any other things you want to tell us about your company and your success?

Mr Dow Sainter —We keep it pretty lean. We do all of our production from the Tasmanian base—in fact, it was a very pleasant walk here on an autumn morning in Tasmania here in Hobart—down in Salamanca. We keep that fairly lean, with 12 to 15 full-time equivalents here. We have some staff in Melbourne and an office there, which generally pursues our film and television interests, and in the UK our offices there and incorporated companies, which is purely a sales function. The staff are all sales related.

Mr ZAPPIA —It is fantastic. Keep it up. Recommendation 3 is about coordinating across the relevant departments and agencies and makes a lot of sense. I have a question and it has been put to the committee in terms of the merit of an ombudsman in terms of cybersafety issues. I do not know whether you have heard that recommendation and whether you have a view as to the merit of it or otherwise.

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes, I would actually even take it further. Another reason we came up with this system based approach is that it is incredibly confusing for a teacher who is time poor. There is a cybersmart website and there is a Stay Smart Online website—one run by ACMA and one run by DBCDE. You have the Alannah and Madeline Foundation resources, and Roar resources—

Ms Standish —The Australian Federal Police.

Mr Dow Sainter —The AFP.


Mr Dow Sainter —That is kind of crazy from our point of view. We believe that, if an ombudsman is going to assist in actually getting a centralised approach to this, that is a positive thing. I guess that, from my point of view as a senior manager of a company that actually does this for a living, I do not think government is the right place to be actually doing it. Government should be setting the benchmarks and making sure the people reach a standard, but the reality is the content that is made for these government agencies is out of date by the time it gets live and government are not good at marketing and certainly cannot sell.

CHAIR —Where do you see ACMA’s role in relation to the ombudsman about a coordinating body?

Mr Dow Sainter —I think they can have a role. The first thing I would say—and, again, I possibly am shooting myself in the foot; one is a client and the other is potentially one—is that I think you need to sort out actually where is going to be the central repository of resources for teachers. Is it going to be ACMA, or is it going to be the DBCDE or is it going to be the AFP?

Ms Standish —Or DEEWR?

Mr Dow Sainter —Or DEEWR?

Ms Standish —Where does it belong?

CHAIR —So your view is that there needs to be a central, in your words, ‘repository of resources’?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes, and whether they include commercial resources as well and whether I can then sell the Roar Us Online Next Generation on top of that as a premium service or not, that is a discussion, but at the moment it is turf warfare out there.

Ms Standish —But it is not simply about the resources. It is above that. There is the issue of who provides the leadership in all of this area.

CHAIR —So, your organisation is a commercial entity?

Mr Dow Sainter —Absolutely.

CHAIR —And do you receive government funding?

Mr Dow Sainter —We have received, for instance, export market development grants and things like that, but in terms of the content that we make to sell to schools we self-fund.

CHAIR —So, you sell those on a commercial basis?

Mr Dow Sainter —On a commercial basis, yes. In the UK, for instance, it works out around about a pound a student per annum. We work on a yearly subscription. That keeps everyone fairly honest. It means that we update our product, and that is so important with these issues—the change. By the time you have built it, some of the issues have changed. It also keeps the school safe in that, if they are not finding that the modules are effective or achieving the outcomes that they want, they do not renew.

CHAIR —Mr Zappia asked a question about that. How does the school assess whether or not they are achieving the outcomes? Do you have some sort of program set up for that or is it individual schools? So, you sell the module to the school and then it is up to them to tell you whether they want to then subscribe for the following year?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes.

Ms Standish —Effectively, yes.

Mr Dow Sainter —Effectively, yes, but, until we actually have an integrated risk management cybersafeguarding system which we are suggesting with the new development, that is very much the case. It is a qualitative judgement—a subjective judgement—by that school. It could be that the modules only serve a purpose to raise awareness of the issue, but again that might actually be worth one pound a student to that school.

CHAIR —Given that you have said it needs to be set to a standard, how do you assess, of the resources already available, which ones are better suited to a particular demographic?

Mr Dow Sainter —For instance, in the north-west of England—especially the outlying areas—which is quite working class, it differs from one school to the next, and it could be five miles down the road from one to the other. There does not seem to be a rhyme or reason about which activities or which modules or which issues actually resonate with any particular school. It is quite regional in that respect.

Ms Standish —We have, if you like, created our own set of benchmarks and standards based on the experience, I suppose, of working in this area for five years. I dare say that, if one of the outcomes of this committee process would be to establish national standards or benchmarks for cybersafety, I do not think we would be a mile away from what those would be. It is not rocket science that we are talking about. Yes, but we have effectively had to create that ourselves.

Mr Dow Sainter —Because there is no standard out there.

Ms Standish —There is nothing.

Mr Dow Sainter —We would love to inform that debate. But once a standard was taken up by the Australian schools—the Australian government hopefully—then we would all, of course, adopt that. It is not so different to driver training. We just need to know what the benchmark is.

Senator BARNETT —That is a good analogy.

Ms Standish —We often think about the driving analogy: the fact that for the first—whatever it was—27 years there were no road rules, there was no agreed system for training drivers and the death rate grew to something like five times the rate it is today.

CHAIR —In point 4 in your recommendation you say:

Beyond the establishment of educational standards and coordination of departments and agencies, government might then step back and allow the market more room to contribute cyber-risk solutions.

You argue that your company is in a good position to do that, but you actually are trying to remove government from the equation. You say here:

After all, government sets road rules and minimum standards for safe, responsible road use, but government doesn’t actually teach motorists to drive.

That implies that you would not want government involved in providing cybersafety resources.

Mr Dow Sainter —It implies that we do not actually have faith in the government to do the job as well as we believe we could do it commercially.

CHAIR —I come from an education background myself and I am fully aware that all of the initiatives that have been put forward by this government actually come from teams of experts in a whole range of areas across these fields. We are talking about educators, psychologists and experts in the technology field.

Mr Dow Sainter —We work with these people.

CHAIR —So why would those experts not be in a position to deliver whereas you say that your company is?

Ms Standish —But those experts are providing, if you like, the policy framework, are they not? They are not actually mechanically creating education resources. That is my understanding.

CHAIR —The argument that has been put forward here is that government needs to remain outside of that.

Mr Dow Sainter —I guess that, No. 1, for instance, we did a lot of work with the Learning Federation totally unrelated to cybersafeguarding. In fact, that is how we cut our teeth in the online learning through 2002 onwards to about 2007. Yes, we worked with subject matter experts such as child psychologists, depending on the curriculum history. Having that input with a government budget does not necessarily make a quality product in that area. In terms of an analogy, whilst we have a history curriculum, we still actually have a private enterprise creating textbooks which are attached to that and deliver on that curriculum too. I do not see why cybersafeguarding should not be like that. In terms of just sheer value for money, the development that we can do and the volume that we can actually put out of quality resources covering a far broader spectrum of issues relating to cybersafeguarding and citizenship—compared with doing a contract for the Learning Federation, DBCDE, Screen Australia, DEEWR or whoever it might be—the difference is huge.

CHAIR —If you were to take on board, say, ACMA, the resources produced by ACMA are of an excellent quality. We have heard from many experts in this field in relation to these resources and the use of these resources and they are made available to everyone. So, they are made available to schools, to the general public and to parents. If you were to remove government from that equation, you would then be saying that, if private enterprise was involved, that would be on a pay basis.

Mr Dow Sainter —I am not absolutely mandating that the government be totally removed. Obviously, it is not for a commercial organisation to dictate, but in terms of actually building an integrated system, that is certainly not something that the government can do well. I am so intimate with the resources that ACMA have. Also, we have had discussions with ACMA about them actually licensing our content because they see it as being—and maybe it is not fair of me to say—superior to what they currently have. The predominant resources that ACMA are using come from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, CEOP.

Ms Standish —They are not actually making the resources.

CHAIR —I have been to the UK and I have looked at the work that they are doing there.

Mr Dow Sainter —The CEOP resources and Childnet resources have been available for about five or six years. It is actually in that exact period that Roar has developed a, if you like, thriving business and a huge market share with 40 per cent plus of government schools—not just independent schools—with those resources actually being available. We are more likely to sell to a school if the school is actually using the CEOP ACMA resources, because they are aware of the issue. I have got no problem with the government promoting awareness. They do so with driver training.

CHAIR —We are running out of time.

Mr Dow Sainter —Sure.

CHAIR —So what role do you see the government playing in relation to cybersafety?

Mr Dow Sainter —Awareness, setting standards and benchmarks and, yes, policy.

Ms Standish —Research—all the sorts of things that the backend of ACMA and other organisations are doing at the moment anyway. We are not seeking to take that away or compete with it, effectively.

CHAIR —So, from where you are coming from—

Ms Standish —Government has a very important role to play.

CHAIR —We just ask these questions so that we get the information on Hansard, as we explained earlier. So you would see that your role would be to develop the resources—to produce the resources?

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes.

Ms Standish —Yes.

CHAIR —And for the government role to be, as you have just gone through, to set the benchmarks?

Mr Dow Sainter —Benchmarks and policies.

Ms Standish —To set the benchmarks to which we should be aiming—educational benchmarks and standards.

Mr Dow Sainter —We have never done the maths and it would be probably impossible to do, but across all the very large government agencies they are spending very big budgets on these issues and it is quite fragmented. If one thing comes out of this committee, it is to just at least have one port of call. It would be more cost effective and save teachers an awful lot of headache.

CHAIR —It is an ongoing issue. It is evolving as we speak.

Ms Standish —It is.

CHAIR —Thank you.

Senator BARNETT —I know time is tight. I just wanted to check your observations regarding the Facebook page from Martin Bryant back in January-February. You might have seen some media around it. This caused a great deal of angst and concern. Do you have any feedback on that? Secondly, in regard to contacting Facebook, we have had a number of incidents where it is very difficult to make contact with them and express a view/complaint. Do you have those same sorts of concerns?

Ms Standish —We have not managed to make a connection with Facebook even though we are users of Facebook.

CHAIR —Have you attempted to?

Ms Standish —We have done actually, over specific issues.

Mr Dow Sainter —The classic example is that a fictitious Facebook has been set up and there are slanderous comments about a teacher or another student, and the school has talked to Facebook to get that removed. It just does not seem to be an easy process. Facebook, I think, tends to be dodging the issue there. I cannot comment on the Martin Bryant page. I was not in the country at the time.

CHAIR —So you have attempted to contact Facebook with regard to issues and you have not been able to?

Ms Standish —We read about it 12 months ago. It was probably actually when they appeared before this committee 12 months ago. They were going to be doing some cybersafety education. We thought, ‘Wow, we would really be interested to talk with them about that and to be involved in that process and to understand where they’re coming from.’ We tried to make contact. We could not figure out how to do it and it went away.

CHAIR —We have been advised that they are looking at this as we speak—or this was a few weeks ago—for a policy adviser to be based in Australia.

Mr Dow Sainter —It is based in California, is it not?

CHAIR —We would be interested, in addition to your submission, if you would like to put forward your experiences in relation to trying to contact Facebook. As Senator Barnett said, there have been a number of instances that have been raised.

Ms Standish —They are clearly a very important player in all of this.

Mr Dow Sainter —Absolutely.

Ms Standish —That is concerning, is it not, that they are so difficult to contact?

CHAIR —Mr Dow Sainter, do you have any view as to what would make it easier for people like yourself and perhaps the general public, with regard to social networking sites and contacting them?

Mr Dow Sainter —No. 1, the key issue is obviously education of the users of Facebook so that if they are doing something wrong it at least demonstrates some level of malicious intent rather than just ignorance, because I think a lot of the issues happen out of sheer ignorance. Obviously, Australia has embraced Facebook. No. 1, having somebody locally, domestically, in Australia that we can actually contact. I guess that, as a commercial being, I can imagine the amount of traffic that they receive, and it would be difficult. But, again, if you add somebody like an ombudsman who you could go and put a complaint through and if that actually created a filtering mechanism, I think Facebook would be quite happy with that, I would have assumed.

Senator BARNETT —I have a lot of concerns about those issues. I have one final question. We were advised this morning by the Department of Education that about 95 per cent of parents actually sign the conditions of use document when they come to the school, which sounds like a high percentage, but then I am concerned also about the five per cent and what happens to them. Have you got any idea?

Ms Standish —No, I do not. I do not know what happens there.

Senator BARNETT —You do not have any experience in that area in terms of their use or lack of use of technology in the school environment?

Ms Standish —No, we do not.

Mr Dow Sainter —No, and I cannot imagine the children are being withheld from actually using the technology whether at home or at school.

Senator BARNETT —We were advised this morning that, certainly in some instances, there is a teacher oversight of the student when they are actually using it, but with the greatest respect that must be resource intensive and difficult to manage, I would imagine.

Ms Standish —Yes.

Mr Dow Sainter —Yes. Acceptable use policies are wonderful. They are like the software agreements I click ‘agree to’ on a daily basis when I do an update, which I have never read in my life. Also, I think that, if you look at the Tasmanian Department of Education’s most recent acceptable use policy, which asks for the school, the parent and the student/child to sign, it actually says that—and it might have been a draft I was looking at—the parent is going to maintain supervision of the child whenever they are using connected technologies at home. That is not feasible—not in a world of mobile connected technologies.

Ms Standish —That comes back to a point made earlier today about the need to actually support parents to understand what they are signing here.

Senator BARNETT —Thank you.

CHAIR —Are there any further questions? Is there anything that you would like to say that perhaps you have not got on record at this stage?

Mr Dow Sainter —Personally, I feel I have covered most of the points that we would like to, but I invite the committee at any stage to contact us if they require further information or opinion from us, because I think we have good experience in this area.

CHAIR —Thank you. The secretariat may be in touch with you if any of the members do have additional questions. If you are able to provide any additional information with regard to your experiences with Facebook that the committee could consider, we would appreciate that. I would like to thank you very much for both your presentation today and the information that you have provided to the committee. It will be very useful.

Mr Dow Sainter —Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Ms Standish —Thank you.

[11.37 am]