Out of the dark: Harnessing the views of young people to improve online safety

Young people and technology
Friday 27 July, 0930 – 0950


Carol Ronken

The Queensland Family and Child Commission’s (QFCC’s) Out of the Dark community education program addresses online, sexually related experiences that harm children, referred to from now as “online abuse”. There are many forms of online abuse, resulting in harm ranging from mild distress to extreme damage. Advances in, and increased use of technology exposes young people to greater risk, and many families do not have the necessary knowledge to respond appropriately and keep youth safe online.

A review of research and resources revealed an abundance of materials aimed at empowering youth to be safe online. However, the QFCC’s research and youth consultation highlights a potential mismatch between existing materials and young people’s preferences, as youth value the visual appeal of resources and often do not engage with government websites.

The QFCC identified an existing tool developed by Out of the Dark committee members, Bravehearts and Task Force Argos, Queensland Police, that aimed to provide youth with an option to report online behaviours relating to grooming and procurement offences, anonymously and officially to police, via Bravehearts. Speaking with groups of young people, Bravehearts had identified four key themes around why they would not disclose online behaviours, and what would motivate youth to speak out.

This presentation discusses the important role youth played in the redevelopment of the Join the Dots tool by the QFCC, to ensure that it is a tool that will be utilised by youth, and that it is relevant and effective in achieving its aims.