Almost a third of all Australian schools are using quality online safety education providers endorsed by the eSafety Commissioner, the federal online safety regulator, as reports of cyberbullying continue to surge during the pandemic.
The Trusted eSafety Provider program, which is run by the eSafety Commissioner, helps schools find providers of evidence-based and curriculum-aligned online safety education programs.
eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said lockdowns and the pandemic have led Australian children to spend more time online than ever before.
“As many Australians are forced online for their work and education during the pandemic, eSafety has seen a rise in reports about cyberbullying and other online harms,” Ms Inman Grant said.
“Research released earlier this year found that 44 per cent of teens had a negative online experience in the six months to September 2020. Additionally, 3 in 10 children had been contacted by a stranger online.
“It is vital that schools teach their students how to stay safe online with strategies such as being an ‘upstander’ when they see bullying online and knowing how to seek help when something doesn’t feel right.
“Providers endorsed by the Trusted eSafety Provider program can work with schools to educate students about these topics.”
Ms Inman Grant said it was pleasing to see Australian schools take a huge interest in the educational programs, which have the the eSafety tick of approval.
“In the last financial year, 2,772 schools – or about 29 per cent of all Australian schools – had at least one session from a Trusted eSafety Provider,” Ms Inman Grant said.
“These providers reported a total of 772,305 participants had taken part in their school-based programs in the 2020-21 financial year alone.
Ms Inman Grant said eSafety’s Trusted eSafety Provider program is designed to provide schools with confidence that the external online safety provider they engage has met a range of mandatory requirements.
“This makes it easier for schools to find and select an online safety education provider they can trust to deliver a good quality program,” Ms Inman Grant said.
“The majority of the participants in the programs have been students but parents and teachers have also taken part in the programs to learn about such topics as cyberbullying, image-based abuse, and respectful online relationships.”
The eSafety Commissioner works with these providers to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest online safety research, trends and practices.
There are currently 37 Trusted eSafety Providers offering a diverse range of services across each state and territory with at least 30 delivering programs online.