TUESDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2022
SUBJECTS: Safer Internet Day; Labor’s Digital License policy.
STEVEN WHITE, HOST: Joining me is Member for Whitlam Stephen Jones, good morning.
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning. Good to be with you. Thank you.
WHITE: Thanks for joining us. What is the purpose of this digital license?
JONES: So the word “license” is probably a little bit misleading. What we're proposing to do is work with the experts who've been working on young people's education to develop a curriculum that can be used in schools and can be used with households. A tool to enable us to teach our young people how to operate safely online. It's a part of a wider package of reforms that we want to put into place and tools we want to put in place whether it's online scams and protecting households from the $30 billion cost of online scams or ensuring that our kids can operate safely online. As well, we want to ensure that people have the tools to be able to operate in the 21st century, as you said it, whether it's a fridge, a speaker or a smart phone, an iPad, a tablet. Everything is done online, just about every one of our daily interactions occurs online. We want to ensure that happens safely and people have, particularly young people, have the tools that are necessary.
WHITE: And will children be using these tools at home as well as school, or both?
JONES: Look it's a good point. We want to ensure the young people have the knowledge and experience and know what the warning signs are so that when they’re interacting online, they can do it safely. And one of the things that we've discovered in our research is often young people in the household have more knowledge about these things than their parents. And we normally say, well it's the parents’ job to teach the kids how to do things safely, whether it's cross the road or use kitchen and implements. But it's very often the case that the kids are more familiar with the utilisation of technology than their parents. We’re taking that into account, we need to ensure that they have the tools available to ensure that they can do that safely. Yes, the parents have got a role, but the classroom’s got a role as well. And let's not forget that my kids go to school, all their work is done on a tablet or a laptop. So the schools have got a role in this as well.
WHITE: What will be some of the specific things that kids will be taught with these tools? Is it just as simple as not going to certain websites? Is it tools to around, if people send them certain messages or pictures, how they respond? How they react to, you know, who they need to tell?
JONES: Yeah, a couple of things, obvious examples. You've picked out a couple. Unsolicited approaches from people outside their safety or friendship network or their family network. That's an obvious red flag. But also how to browse safely. How to discern between an authoritative or reputable source and one that's a bit dodgy. How to ensure that you're not exposing yourself to malware that might be infecting your computer that might be sitting there for months or years and then activate sometime down the track. But also, and this is sometimes an uncomfortable area for parents to have conversations with kids about, how to ensure that you're not leaving an unfortunate digital footprint. Taking inappropriate photos of yourself and sharing them amongst friendship groups or posting them online. Once you've posted something, they’re there forever. You might do something as a 15-year-old and it appears, you know, on a research report about you when you turn up for a job interview as a 22-year old. These are all things that we need to ensure that kids are aware of, that adults are aware of and that we take into account. When I was a kid we learnt about how to safely operate a Bunsen burner and make our way around a lab. Our kids have got to learn how to safely utilise the technology that's a part of their everyday life.
WHITE: Oh gosh, this might be showing my age, but I actually do remember the old Bunsen burner and I feel I did burn myself a couple of times despite my teachers trying to help me!
JONES: Well, I won't tell the inappropriate things that I did with a Bunsen burner if you don’t tell yours! But it's the same thing, you know. It's like these things are a part of our classroom. These are things are a part of about daily life, operating online. We've got to learn how to do it safely.
WHITE: Now, I believe there are some programs similar to this digital tool that are running now. But from what I understand, it's running in schools that can afford it. Under your proposal, this all schools that will have access to it?
JONES: That's right. We want to ensure that the organisations that are working on preparing the curriculum and providing and preparing the tools are able to distribute that to the thousands and thousands of schools across the Illawarra, across New South Wales and across the country. So it's not just available to those schools that can afford it. We want to ensure that all kids have access to these materials and that's the purpose of the policy.
WHITE: And how much is this going to cost?
JONES: We think we can get the materials prepared for under $5 million thereabouts. But this is something that we need to ensure that as the stuff is developed, and if new needs emerge, then we've got to ensure that between the State and the Federal Governments, this stuff is funded properly and our teachers and our parents have the tools that are necessary to ensure their kids can operate safely.
WHITE: And do you know who is actually offering these license programs at the moment to the schools that can afford it?
JONES: There's a couple of organisations, and given that you're a non-advertising broadcaster, I won't promote any of the individual organisations online. But there's a couple of organisations who are doing it, some for-profit, some not for profit. But we'll be working with the most appropriate ones and ensuring that they've got the funding that is going to enable them to help them to help us.