Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Former Parliamentary Secretary
to the Minister for Communications

Senate passes Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill with strong bipartisan support

4 March 2015

The Abbott Government's Enhancing Online Safety for Children Bill 2014 has today passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher MP said today.

"This is a very significant milestone in the Government's work to make the internet safer for Australian children," Mr Fletcher said.

"The measures in the Bill implement the Coalition's 2013 election commitment to establish a Children's e-Safety Commissioner to take a national leadership role in online safety for children, and to establish an effective complaints system, backed by legislation, to get harmful cyberbullying material down fast from large social media services.

"It is very pleasing to see the bipartisan support for this Bill – which in turn reflects the message that politicians across the spectrum are hearing from Australia's parents, children and teachers about the importance of keeping children safe online – and doing more to protect children against the threat of cyberbullying.

"Research commissioned by the Abbott Government found that in a single year one in five Australian children between the ages of 8 and 17 were exposed to cyberbullying."

This Bill complements other Abbott Government measures to enhance online safety for children, including a commitment of $10 million, comprising $7.5 million for online safety programmes in schools, $2.4 million to establish and operate the Office of the Children's e‐Safety Commissioner and $100,000 to support Australian-based research and information campaigns on online safety.

Following final agreement by the House of Representatives which is not contentious and is expected to occur over coming days, the Bill will receive Royal Assent and pass into law.

The Government has already begun detailed implementation work but with the passage of the Bill this will now accelerate. 

The Government expects to announce the appointment of the Children's e-Safety Commissioner in coming weeks. After that point, the next priorities will be to commence the operation of the Office of the Commissioner, which will include significant resources transferred in from other areas of the Australian public service, and then to implement the operation of the effective complaints system to get harmful cyberbullying material down fast from large social media services, which is expected to occur over the course of this year. More announcements will be made as key milestones are reached.

Media Contact – Luke Coleman 0414-728-720

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