A group of six from Melbourne’s South-West want to enhance cybersecurity education in Victorian primary schools.
As part of the Y Victorian Youth Parliament program, the passionate young adults debated their Bill in Parliament’s Legislative Council on June 29.
Lily Decker, Evie Redford, Taylah Fynney, Sean Carpenter, Shrika Vallabh and Grace Emezie formed the team from Westbourne Grammar School.
Their Bill aims to establish a board that oversees cybersecurity education in primary schools across Victoria and design a curriculum that incorporates cybersecurity education into everyday learning.
Lily Decker joined the program as she is interested in seeing young people expand their influence and have a say in Parliament.
“This Bill is equipping students with the tools that they need to navigate through the world of cybersecurity,” Decker said.
The team recognised that technology and social media is being used by more children aged younger every year, which accelerated during the Covid pandemic and online learning.
The eSafety Commissioner found 60% of parents believe their children are exposed to risks when online.
“We want parents and teachers to make sure that they (students) are being safe and ensure they have the proper knowledge and resources,” Decker said.
Vallabh described the Bill as “a call to action, a call to protect and a call to empower”.
“Our children are the unsuspecting casualties of a battle fought on digital battlegrounds,” she added.
A major proposal of the Bill is the establishment of the Victorian Primary Education Cybersecurity Body (VPECB), which includes representatives from the office of the Minister for Education, cybersecurity experts, as well as educators.
The body will be responsible for developing a cybersecurity education curriculum, updated every three years, with the aim to continuously reinforce knowledge to primary students.
Each school will implement a Head of Cybersecurity from current staff, responsible for attending a professional development day, and reporting the learning progress of their students to the VPECB.
The team wants to make cybersecurity education equitable, providing schools with the same learning resources across the state.
The group said that teachers from their school have supported the idea of a professional development day, saying that it would be the most achievable way to learn the required training.
The team wants the bill to be legislated as soon as possible, stating “children are in danger” and there are “not enough” measures in place to currently protect their safety online.
The Cybersecurity Education in Primary Schools Bill passed Youth Parliament on Thursday, June 29 and has been handed to the Minister of Youth, Natalie Suleyman, for consideration.
Blake Lee is a Victorian Youth Parliament Youth Press Gallery journalist.