E-safety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant highlights the upcoming online safety education tools to protect young Australians.
The Online Safety Act came into force at the end of January 2022 – bringing stronger powers to better protect Australians in the fight against online harms. And while eSafety can support Australians when something goes wrong online, we know that educators are fundamental to preventing and mitigating harms – giving individuals the knowledge to confidently navigate the online world and knowing where to turn if things go wrong.
As the pandemic forced the education sector to find different pathways to continue to engage and support students and families – both online and off – the work of educators has become even more critical – with an even greater emphasis on online safety education. To support this effort, eSafety has consulted with educators, parents and students to ensure we develop resources and training that are relevant and useful. We call on you to join our eSafety Champions Network, which is comprised of teachers/staff representatives who make online safety a priority in their schools, to help us develop and pilot new material to support educators. Some other resources and ways to get involved in online safety education in 2022 include:
LEADING BEST PRACTICE
eSafety’s Best Practice Framework for Online Safety Education and Toolkit for Schools are being used across Australia to ensure schools deliver high quality programs, with clearly defined elements and effective practices. eSafety and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority developed the online safety curriculum connection to support this integration.
PROFESSIONAL LEARNING FOR EDUCATORS
eSafety offers a range of targeted and accredited professional learning that can support educators across the learning continuum, from early years to school leavers. It can be challenging to keep up to date with evolving tech and emerging trends among children and young people, so eSafety has a NSW Education Standards Authority and ACT Teacher Quality Institute accredited webinar- based professional learning program. This program draws on the latest online safety research, case studies and training strategies to integrate online safety into student wellbeing and curriculum planning. The program is one component of the range of tools and strategies to help integrate online safety into existing programs and student wellbeing planning. It was pleasing to see that in a recent external evaluation of one of eSafety’s webinars: ‘Online harmful sexual behaviours, misinformation and emerging technology’, after attending the webinar: • All respondents were confident embedding online safety concepts in their work; • educators’ confidence in helping young people to report online incidents increased; • all participants reported that they felt (or would feel) more confident dealing with online safety issues as a result of the webinar. This webinar will run all year, along with ‘Digital rights and responsibilities of students and educators’, which begins in April. As part of this professional learning program, eSafety will soon be launching four self-paced online learning modules for educators in lower primary to help support their learning and with links to activities to use in the classroom.
HOME – SCHOOL PARTNERSHIP
We know that a holistic approach to teaching children and young people is key in ensuring online safety messaging is having an impact. Integrating eSafety learning in the classroom and having parents continue these discussions in the home reinforces the learning and creates open lines of communication between school and home. Our new resource, how our class stays safe online, can be used with students aged 5 to 8 years. The activity encourages teachers and students to continue the discussion in the home using the family tech agreement. The home activity equips parents with discussion starters and tips to help support learnings at home, and to have discussions within the family.
NEW RESOURCES AND VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS
Throughout the year on occasions such as Safer Internet Day, National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence and during National Child Protection Week, eSafety delivers live virtual classrooms to primary students across Australia. New resources are also released to accompany these virtual classrooms. To support Safer Internet Day we launched the Play it safe and fair online resource – featuring three Australian athletes – which encourages primary and secondary students to explore strategies for staying safe online and identify how and when to get support if something goes wrong.
Julie Inman Grant is a regular contributor to Education Matters Primary and Secondary Magazine. This feature was first published in Education Matters Print magazine in April 2022.