Australian Budget 2019: Women’s safety technology trials

The government is providing funding for trialling Women’s Safety Package Technology, while also looking to improve online safety for children, people with intellectual disabilities, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Australia will be investing almost AU$3 million into a new Women's Safety Package Technology Trials, the government has announced in its 2019-20 Federal Budget.

"This program supports a series of trials to test new technologies or innovative uses of existing technologies to improve the safety of women and children affected by family and domestic violence," the Budget papers explain.

The government will fund the trials with AU$1.7m in 2018-19 -- AU$500,000 in both New South Wales and Victoria, AU$100,000 in both Queensland and South Australia, and AU$400,000 in Tasmania -- and with AU$900,000 in 2019-20 -- AU$200,000 in both NSW and South Australia, and AU$400,000 in Tasmania.

Included in the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children 2010-2022 is AU$64 million that will go towards updating online services and phone resources; and part of the AU$110.9 million funding envelope that will be delivered to Australia's first prevention hub and social media platform The Line.

In addition, AU$4 million is being provided to the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) to identify, report, and support victims of technology-facilitated abuse in women with intellectual disabilities and those among "high-risk" Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to enable these groups to better protect themselves online.

The government is also looking towards improving online safety for children.

"We also have to do more to keep our kids safe online and tackle cyber-bullying," Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in his Budget speech on Tuesday night.

"Just as we teach our kids how to cross the street, we now need to teach them how to sensibly and safely use the web.

"In this Budget, we are funding new practical training to give kids, parents, and teachers the knowledge and skills necessary to keep our children safe online."

The government will therefore provide AU$10 million over the next four years -- AU$2.5 million each in 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 -- to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to start up a new Online Safety Grants Programto deliver online safety education and training projects for children by non-government organisations.

Finally, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is gaining AU$25.1 million in additional resourcing over the next three years to similarly "facilitate timely responses to privacy complaints and support strengthened enforcement action in relation to social media and other online platforms that breach privacy regulations".

How much of the Budget becomes enacted remains to be seen, as the government is expected to call a May election this weekend.

Australian Budget 2019 Coverage

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