Forrest MHR Nola Marino welcomes decision by Federal Government to commit to online age verification trial

Forrest MHR Nola Marino has welcomed a decision by the Federal Government to undertake an age verification trial to prevent children accessing pornography, saying the move is “better late than never”.

The trial announcement was made on Wednesday following a meeting of National Cabinet amid calls for more to be done to stop violence against women.

Mrs Marino revealed last month she had been approached at a school about nine-year-old students streaming pornography as she and shadow communications minister David Coleman pushed for the Government to do more to protect children from harm online.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the move would also seek to prevent access to other age-restricted services.

Forrest MHR Nola Marino has welcomed a decision by the Federal Government to undertake an age verification trial to prevent children accessing pornography, saying the move is “better late than never”.

The trial announcement was made on Wednesday following a meeting of National Cabinet amid calls for more to be done to stop violence against women.

Mrs Marino revealed last month she had been approached at a school about nine-year-old students streaming pornography as she and shadow communications minister David Coleman pushed for the Government to do more to protect children from harm online.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the move would also seek to prevent access to other age-restricted services.

“Taking steps to prevent access for minors to age-inappropriate content like pornography is one tool that can help protect young minds from damaging and misogynistic behaviours,” she said.

The Federal Opposition had been pushing the Federal Government to approve an age verification trial for months, following the release of the eSafety Commissioner’s roadmap report last year.

“This is something the Federal Opposition has been calling for, and the eSafety Commissioner in fact recommended this a year ago,” Mrs Marino said.

“So it’s a case of better late than never.”

The Federal Government has allocated $6.5 million towards the move, though a start date and the specifics of the trial have not been announced. The move will see Australia follow the UK’s lead on the issue.

Mrs Marino highlighted the potential benefits of the trial for young people in the region.

“From the many cybersafety sessions I have delivered to schoolkids in the South West, and to parents and educators, I know directly how badly young people are affected by what is often violent online pornography,” she said.

“Children from a very early age are being exposed to this graphic content. There are already age-assurance technologies available to help protect kids from online harm.”

While she was supportive of the trial, Mrs Marino noted the need for parents and caregivers to be proactive.

“Age verification is just one tool, and we all have a part to play,” she said.

“Ultimately, families have a role in helping to keep their children safe online in the same way they protect their children’s physical safety.”

Source: Bunbury Herald 7 May 2024