Question Time response – Online safety

Member for Pearce: My question is to the Minister for Communications. How is the Albanese Labor Government continuing its work to keep Australians safe online?

Minister Rowland: I thank the Member for her question because protecting children and other vulnerable Australians from online harms is a key focus of the Albanese Government. Online safety is a collective responsibility between industry, regulators, government and civil society, and I acknowledge the impacted family members who have come to Canberra this week and for their brave advocacy. 

The landscape is changing rapidly. That's why we're using all leaders to address new and emerging harms. And it's the reason why I announced last November that I would bring forward the review of the Online Safety Act by a year because we must ensure our regulatory settings are fit-for-purpose. When the Online Safety Act commenced in early 2022, generative AI was barely a topic of discussion for most Australians. The review is well underway and I encourage all Australians to have their say through the consultation on important issues including: penalties and enforcement, the role and use of recommender systems, and harmful content like body image harms. 

The Government is taking a methodical and joined up approach across portfolios and Ministers in this work. The Joint Select Committee on Social Media and Australian Society is examining the role of platform algorithms and the impact of corporate decision making on the content that Australians see, and their impact on mental health. For the first time, the dating app industry is engaging with government to develop new rules to support at-risk users and improve their safety practices. We allocated $6.5 million in the Budget for an age assurance trial to test the efficacy of a range of technologies that could be used to protect children from harmful content, including use cases for restricting access to age in appropriate content such as pornography, age restricted content and social media. Importantly, Mr Speaker, we're supporting the eSafety Commissioner to implement the Online Safety Act, including by quadrupling its ongoing base funding. 

And lastly, we acknowledge the dedication of the eSafety Commissioner and her agency, and their tireless work to keep Australians safe online. These are public servants doing vital work that is needed to uphold Australian law in the interests of all citizens. To that end, the Government acknowledges the decision of eSafety as an independent regulator to both bring and discontinue legal proceedings in the Federal Court against X Corp. The Government backs our regulators, and we back the eSafety Commissioner – particularly in light of the reprehensible threats to her physical safety and the threats to her family in the course of doing her job. 

Finally, I understand that parents may feel overwhelmed when it comes to keeping their children safe online. There's a wealth of resources freely available at and I encourage all members to avail themselves of these resources and to share them widely.