A national rollout of ThinkUKnow, an Internet safety program designed to help Australia’s children stay safe online, was announced today by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Microsoft as part of National E-Security Awareness Week.
ThinkUKnow provides free training sessions to equip parents, carers and teachers with tools to help educate children about Internet safety and encourage them to think before they act online.
ThinkUKnow will become available in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory in Term 1, 2010 after a successful pilot was conducted in schools in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.
National Manager of High Tech Crime Operations Neil Gaughan said the evaluation of the pilot reflects the success of ThinkUKnow. It recognises that the program is an important method to protect young Australians by assisting their parent, carers and teachers to keep them safe online.
“By helping to start a dialogue between parents and children, we hope that young people will be more confident going to their parents when they have a problem, and that their parents will better understand how to deal with online issues,” Commander Gaughan said.
”The AFP will continue to work closely with industry, government and local and international law enforcement agencies to protect children online through education and by targeting online sex offenders.”
The pilot, which was conducted between February and April this year, was delivered to over 2,100 parents, carers and teachers who participated in over 45 training sessions. Enthusiastic uptake of the training together with the results of an evaluation indicated the need for an Internet safety program like ThinkUKnow.
Microsoft’s Regional Director of Online Safety, Julie Inman Grant, said that the ThinkUKnow training sessions were designed to be easily accessible, non-technical and to provide practical tools that could be applied simply in everyday life.
“There is an element of fear of the unknown amongst adults when it comes to cyber safety and the technologies and services young people are using today,” said Ms Inman Grant.
“As a result, the ThinkUKnow partners designed the training to be delivered directly to adult communities, through their local schools and we will be looking at innovative ways to roll-out these seminars for regional and remote areas using interactive technologies,” she said.
The ThinkUKnow training program is delivered by volunteers drawn from the employee ranks of Microsoft and the AFP. The commitment and passion of the volunteers contributed to the success of the program.
“Moreover, our AFP and Microsoft trainers are paired to ensure experience and balanced perspectives in policing and technology, respectively, so that they are well placed to provide guidance on the practical steps that can be taken to help keep kids safe online.”
“I am delighted that the ThinkUKnow online safety program is being made available across Australia. The Internet is undoubtedly a wonderful educational tool and we want to make sure our kids have the skills to use it in a safe, smart way,” concluded Ms Inman Grant.
The ThinkUKnow pilot was comprehensively evaluated by the Australian National University’s Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods (CEDAM), which found that the participants were highly receptive to the program:
88% felt they better understood how children are using the Internet
96% felt they better understood the safety issues for children around its use
98% found the information relevant for parents and carers
98% felt more aware of the ways to report offensive or abusive material
91% were motivated to take action on improving cyber safety and security at home
Any parent, carer or teacher interested in organising a presentation at their local school can visit the ThinkUKnow web site at www.thinkuknow.org.au. This website also offers free downloadable resources including fact sheets, promotional posters and an e-newsletter
The ThinkUKnow program originated in the UK and was founded by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.
AFP: (02) 6275 7100
Microsoft: (02) 8281 3810