Online safety for women in the spotlight at Blue Mountains forum

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Local senior women have heard first-hand from the world’s first government regulatory agency committed to keeping its citizens safer online, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, at a forum organised by Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, in Glenbrook.  

 

The event, which was held to inform and raise awareness amongst residents aged 65 and over, included special presentations by the eSafety Office on online safety and social connectedness.  

 

Senator Payne told the forum the Morrison Government was committed to helping create a safer online environment, particularly for women and girls.  

 

“It can be difficult for older people to navigate and understand increasingly complex online environments, but everyone has a role to play in online safety,” Senator Payne said. 

 

“Unfortunately, last year Australia’s eSafety Commissioner recorded an increase of up to 300 per cent in some areas of internet harm, including scams and image-based abuse. 

 

“The spike largely relates to a new scam, which threatens to release intimate videos captured on webcams unless a payment is made. 

 

“By getting the latest information from our world-renowned online safety experts, we can all keep ourselves, our families and our friends safe online.” 

 

At the forum, Senator Payne also announced that the Morrison Government had delivered a new funding package for the Be Connected Program. 

 

In partnership with the eSafety Commissioner, $28.3 million in funding will boost the successful program, which aims to help older Australians bridge the digital divide by providing free information and resources.   

 

Senator Payne said several local services would benefit as part of the government’s latest investment.  

 

“Be Connected offers a comprehensive catalogue of skills, including being safe online, connecting with family and friends and accessing important government and other essential services like online banking from home,” Senator Payne said. 

 

“Many of our local neighbourhood centres, including those at Winmalee and Springwood, as well as the Cyber Shack at Blackheath will each receive a new wave of funding to assist them to carry out their important work.

 

“Local seniors can get in touch with our Be Connected providers to access free, expert information that will help them keep safe online.”

 

Three local Be Connected partners attended the eSafety forum, the Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre, BELONG Blue Mountains and Women With Altitude.

 

 A newly released Swinburne University report found that Be Connected had a statistically significant impact on participants’ digital skills, knowledge and confidence and promoted online safety and social connectedness. The evaluation also found that older female participants were more likely to start with very low to moderate digital skills and confidence but experienced the greatest improvement following involvement with Be Connected. 

 

Residents are strongly encouraged to download official materials from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner and share the information widely. These resources can be accessed at the eSafety Commissioner’s website. For more information, contact Senator Payne’s office at senator.payne@aph.gov.au or call (02) 9786 8755. 

 

For more information about the Be Connected program visit beconnected.esafety.gov.au 

Anyone who is experiencing, or is at risk of family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault, can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or via the website for online counselling and web chat 24 hours a day. Men can contact MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or via their website for round the clock counselling. If a person is in immediate danger, they should dial 000. 

 

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