Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Consent and Online Safety Education

Mr GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (17:11): My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education. The action that I seek from the minister is for reform to be explored in our school curriculum to ensure online grooming and consent education is mandatory at each and every school in the state. ‘Consent’ is a buzzword at the moment, and rightly so. It seems when the federal government released a video to explain what consent is that more people were left scratching their heads than before they were watching it—the milkshake! If our federal government cannot explain this very simple concept, it seems we need to devote resources to making this education mandatory. You may wonder why I have paired together online grooming and consent to both be mandatory in the school curriculum, and the answer is that they tie in with each other quite well in the modern age. Consent has a large component of online consideration, through the sending and receiving of lewd images through to distribution of pornography, and emerging technologies such as video chat rooms and apps et cetera. So just as we need physical consent education in schools, we now need it in an IT context as well. Last year the Victorian government provided a laptop or tablet to every child who did not have one to participate in online learning. Therefore we need to be responsible for teaching our kids how to use these technologies safely. It is a worry that despite each child having internet access only 52 per cent of parents talk to their children about online safety, so we need to ensure that no child slips through the cracks, by introducing these topics in our curriculum. And no school should get an exemption from this commitment—child safety is non-negotiable. The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exportation figures show how online grooming has disgracefully boomed in the last decade. Eleven years ago 1680 reports of online child abuse were received by the ACCCE, and last year this figure rose exponentially to over 21 000. In terms of Victoria’s arrests and charges made for these offences, in 2009–10, 42 charges were laid, and 10 years later this jumped to 317 charges. It is a stark growth, and well done to VicPol and the AFP. This data is very shocking and something we should try to combat, so this is why I am urging the state government to work with our federal government and our school sector, including non-government schools, to develop an in-depth program that explores physical consent but also online consent and safety from online grooming.


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