On April 20, 2017, The Department of Communications and the Arts released the Australian Government response to the Senate References Committee on Environment and Communications report: Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet.
The report states that:
The Student Wellbeing Hub (the Hub) is designed to be responsive to important issues currently affecting schools as they strive to build and sustain positive, respectful and supportive teaching and learning communities.
The response goes on to say:
The Hub currently features “Online safety” as a key focus area for educators, parents and students. The focus area includes a wide range of freely available resources, including podcasts providing:
- advice on supporting students to manage potentially dangerous online activities
- tips on supporting students to be responsible and respectful digital citizens, and
- a snapshot of what educators need to know about students’ safe internet and social media use.
Further information is available on the Hub’s “Online safety” page at www.studentwellbeinghub.edu.au/focus-areas/online-safety#/
These claims are contained within a response directly targeted at addressing the harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet. Our investigations indicate that “Online” or “Cyber safety” education avoids direct mention of pornography related harms; and is inadequate in providing policy guidance to support student welfare and reduce sexual harms.
ABOUT Student Wellbeing Hub
The resources available on the Student Wellbeing Hub help to create learning communities that promote student wellbeing and the development of respectful relationships. The Hub is guided by the principles of the National Safe Schools Framework, which highlight the importance of educators, parents and students working together.
Student Wellbeing Hub provides resources for 3 target groups:
- EDUCATORS: Key information and classroom resources. Professional Learning modules and a school audit tool to help schools build and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment, essential to student wellbeing.
- PARENTS: information and advice. A starting point for advice about important topics and for resources to help make children's school experience a positive one.
- STUDENTS: Information and activities. A student space to find information about important topics and ways to contribute to a safe and supportive school.
An investigation carried out by Porn Harms Kids reveals that the resources available on The Student Wellbeing Hub relevant to online safety and / or sexuality related topics include:
- Sexting – moral, legal and emotional complications
- Online Safety – protecting children’s offline and digital reputation
- Ways to detect and prevent online grooming
- Being Cybersmart
- Setting up online parental controls to monitor children’s online activity
- Cyberbullying and making good online choices
- Resisting peer pressure
- Healthy conflict management and managing healthy friendships
- Social Networking and privacy management
- The power of words
- Depression and Suicide
- Parent-school relationships
- Anti-hate and discrimination
- Social harmony
- Cultural diversity
- Gender diversity
- Positive role modelling
- Internet Addiction (not related to pornography)
- Consequences of uploading inappropriate images
- Same-sex attraction
- Violence in movies, television and video games
There are only 2 links to mention pornography found within the parents section, however users of the site would have to be looking quite intently to find them
Inappropriate, offensive or illegal content. This links back to the eSafety Office and provides further links to information about what type of content might be considered as inappropriate, offensive or illegal; how children access it; what parents can do if their child sees content that’s offensive; filtering software; Kids Helpline details; and reporting offensive or illegal content.
- None of the links provided from the eSafety Office are sufficient to support schools in developing guidelines for school policies, or learning materials to address pornography.
- Netsmartz. This links back to Netsmartz.org and provides information about what parents can do to protect children from exposure to inappropriate online materials such as keeping the lines of communication open with children, using online filters and monitoring softwares and teaching the children what they should do if they see inappropriate content; turn off the screen, use the back button, tell a trusted adult or report to the website or app.
Our investigations reveal that the Student Wellbeing Hub does not cover areas such as detailed guidance for schools, parents or students on:
- Targeted preventive measures that specifically mention online pornography
- The harms of pornography to mental health and addiction related issues
- The potential for pornography to be used as a grooming tool (either directly or indirectly) for sexual exploitation
- The potential for pornography to trigger problem sexual behaviours and sexually abusive behaviours towards other children
- The potential for pornography to normalize online and offline exploitation (including sexting)
- The potential for pornography to shape sexual tastes and desires
- Curriculum links to address pornography
- Policy guidelines to support schools to address pornography
The Hub school audit survey tool (to assess effectiveness of policies & procedures for student wellbeing), fails to provide mention of pornography; guidance for schools to address pornography; or information to prevent all forms of sexual harms related to pornography.
After an extensive review of The Student Wellbeing Hub, it was found that this site fails to provide adequate information, resources or policy guidance to address pornography as a harm to children’s safety and wellbeing.