Curriculum connections

Online safety

Overview

The purpose of this curriculum connection is twofold. It is designed to:

  • guide teachers to identify content in the Australian Curriculum that supports the teaching and learning of online safety
  • connect teachers to a range of interdisciplinary resources that have been developed to support the teaching and learning of online safety.

Online safety is a broad concept that concerns minimising risks online from a range of negative influences including inappropriate social behaviours, abuse, harmful content, inappropriate contact, identity theft and breaches of privacy.

The eSafety Commissioner supports an approach that broadens the provision of online safety education so that it is empowering, builds resilience and effects positive culture change, while also promoting the development of respectful relationships and safe and appropriate long-term behaviours.

In an increasingly complex, connected and rapidly changing world, it is critical for every young Australian to develop the skills needed to flourish as healthy, safe, confident and digitally literate citizens.

Young people are exposed to an open and collaborative online social culture, which enables increasing access to information and opportunities to maintain critical connections with friends and family. However, young people are at a dynamic stage of development in which risk-taking behaviours and decision-making capacities can sometimes lead to negative outcomes. This is evident in the growing recognition and consequences of cyberbullying, grooming, exposure to harmful online content, image-based abuse and other negative online activities.

All young people need opportunities to develop Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Capability to successfully and confidently operate in an information-rich digital world. Developing a sense of social responsibility, including empathy and respect for others, is essential for ethical and social engagement when using ICT to investigate, create, communicate and collaborate with others, and in the management and operation of ICT. Young people also need to develop fluency in digital media literacy and the social and emotional skills that will enable them to use technology to have respectful relationships and avoid harmful online contact and content.

This curriculum connection provides information and resources so that educators can create and/or support online safety teaching and learning programs tailored to address the needs of their school. 

Australian Curriculum content can be viewed using the most relevant pathway:

  • year level
  • learning area
  • general capabilities.

Five interrelated dimensions of online safety can be viewed by year level, learning area and general capabilities:

  • values, rights and responsibilities
  • wellbeing
  • respectful relationships
  • digital media literacy
  • informed and safe use of information and devices.

See Dimensions tab for more detail.

These dimensions of learning have been developed in consultation with the eSafety Commissioner.

The five dimensions of learning about online safety are:

  • Values, rights and responsibilities
  • Wellbeing
  • Respectful relationships
  • Digital media literacy
  • Informed and safe use of information and devices.

1. Values, rights and responsibilities

As students spend time in digital environments and by using digital tools, they develop a broad range of skills and knowledge that contribute to a deep understanding of both their rights and other’s rights in a range of online spaces. They learn that they have a responsibility in the way they behave and at times there are legal implications that may arise in online contexts. In this way, students are able to effectively use digital technologies with an understanding of equity, ethics and personal and social values.

2. Wellbeing

As students spend time in a world where digital technologies are always present, they learn the importance of help-seeking behaviours and healthy online practices. With support from adults and peers, they learn the importance of balancing their time online with offline experiences. Through a supported online environment, they begin to recognise safe and unsafe online situations and develop appropriate strategies to handle these situations.

3. Respectful relationships

As students spend time with others, they begin to develop broad knowledge about the nature of relationships, both face-to-face and online. They are able to practice their communication and conflict resolution skills, build resilience and empathy and take into consideration, differences across cultures, places and times. Students build an understanding of self-image and their online identity. They learn the importance of respecting themselves, others and the wider community.

4. Digital media literacy

As students spend time using the internet, smartphones, video games, and other non-traditional forms of media, they learn the importance of making informed and safe choices. Students learn to recognise trusted content and sources and recognise the influence of context, bias, norms and stereotypes. They develop an understanding of copyright and ownership of online content and the importance of credibility and validity.

5. Informed and safe use of information and devices

As students engage more with online environments, they learn the importance of protecting and managing their own safety, privacy and the security of their data. They gain an understanding of why our data is wanted by organisations, what they do with it and any implications that can occur as a result. Students develop strategies for determining a safe and unsafe device, app, game or website. They learn how to critique e-commerce sites for site reviews, purchasing risks and identity theft.  

An overview of online safety in learning areas

For all year levels, online safety is explicit in Health and Physical Education, Digital Technologies, English and The Arts – Media Arts. In the primary years, it is easier to address online safety holistically through planning and programming. As students move into the secondary years, the opportunities present themselves in a diverse range of learning areas such as History, Geography, Civics and Citizenship, Economics and Business and Work Studies.

An overview of online safety in general capabilities

The online safety curriculum connection provides a framework for all young Australians to understand their digital environments and relationships and be discerning in managing challenging situations.

The curriculum connection provides rich opportunities to address aspects of a range of general capabilities, with a particular emphasis on ICT Capability, Personal and Social Capability, and Ethical Understanding. Depending on their choice of activities, teachers may find further opportunities to incorporate the explicit teaching and assessment of the general capabilities.

In the Australian Curriculum, the general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that will help students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.

Online engagement provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students with the opportunity to explore and strengthen connections between identity and the key concepts of People, Culture and Country/Place. It is critical to be aware that online technologies have the potential to be used to overstep social and cultural authority. By promoting online safety, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can use online interactions to connect with language, strengthen family/kinships, and recognise cultural diversity. By exploring how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups express their particular identities, students may develop an understanding about how group belonging can influence the perceptions of others, and how specific aspects of culture impact the use of technology.

Other website links

Know your mob https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/tailored-advice/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples

Be Deadly Online https://www.esafety.gov.au/educators/classroom-resources/be-deadly-online/student-community-home

 Your online journey https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/tailored-advice/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples/your-online-journey

Increasingly, children and young people learn and socialise using online resources. Many students with special educational needs use digital technologies to provide and enhance educational support.

It is critical to be aware of the risks and issues that all students, including students with special needs, may face online. Students with special educational, social and emotional needs may require extra support to recognise inappropriate and/or threatening behaviour. Some children with special needs may need additional support and strategies to read social cues, make judgements, and manage their online presence.

The relationship between the three dimensions of the Australian Curriculum (learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities) – provides teachers with the flexibility to cater for student diversity through personalised learning. 

Information to support the diverse learning needs of students can be found on the Australian Curriculum website https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/student-diversity/

Other website links

Consent and sexting videos for young teens http://www.murraymalleelegal.com.au/Resources/Consent-and-Sexting-resources.aspx

A guide for staying safe online - Easy Read version https://www.thinkuknow.org.au/sites/default/files/2019-03/2864%20-%20AFP%20-%20A%20Guide%20to%20Staying%20Safe%20Online%20-%20FA%20accessible_0.pdf

Key resources: 

eSafety Commissioner https://www.esafety.gov.au/education-resources 

eSafety Commissioner - The eSafety Guide https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/esafety-guide 

Student Wellbeing Hub https://studentwellbeinghub.edu.au/educators/ 

Bullying. No way! https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/TeachingAboutBullying 

Digital Technologies Hub https://www.digitaltechnologieshub.edu.au/search#/site-search?pageNumber=1&keyword=online%20safety 

Additional resources: 

Alannah & Madeline Foundation https://www.amf.org.au/what-we-do/ 

Daniel Morcombe Foundation https://danielmorcombefoundation.com.au/keeping-kids-safe-resources/ 

Headspace https://headspace.org.au/schools/headspace-in-schools/ 

Headspace: Yarn Safe https://headspace.org.au/yarn-safe/ 

Keep Our Mob Safe Online https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/audio/keep-our-mob-safe-online 

Kids Helpline 

Kids (5-12): https://kidshelpline.com.au/kids/issues 

Teens (13-17): https://kidshelpline.com.au/teens 

Young Adults (18-25): https://kidshelpline.com.au/young-adults 

NetSmartz (US site) https://www.missingkids.org/NetSmartz 

Raising Children https://raisingchildren.net.au/ 

Stars FoundationImproving Health and Education for Indigenous girls https://starsfoundation.org.au/ 

Thinkuknow http://www.thinkuknow.org.au/ 

Cyber Savvy https://cybersavvy.telethonkids.org.au/ 

State and territory education sector resources: 

ACT Government EducationBeing Safe Online https://www.education.act.gov.au/support-for-our-students/student-health-and-wellbeing/being-safe-online 

Northern Territory GovernmentHealth and Wellbeing of Students https://nt.gov.au/learning/primary-and-secondary-students/health-and-wellbeing-of-students/bullying-cyberbullying-and-cybersafety 

New South Wales Department of Education: Digital Citizenship https://www.digitalcitizenship.nsw.edu.au/teachers-articles#tabs-2 

Queensland Government State SchoolsCybersafety in Schools https://www.qld.gov.au/education/schools/health/cybersafety/cybersafety-qss 

Queensland Catholic Education CommissionStudent Safety & Wellbeing https://qcec.catholic.edu.au/our-schools/student-safety/ 

South Australian Department of Education: Cyber-Safety, Bullying and Harassment https://www.education.sa.gov.au/supporting-students/health-e-safety-and-wellbeing/cyber-safety-bullying-and-harassment 

Tasmanian Department of EducationOnline Safety https://www.education.tas.gov.au/parents-carers/parent-fact-sheets/online-safety/ 

Victoria Education and TrainingSchools and Cybersafety https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/bullystoppers/Pages/princyber.aspx 

Western Australia Department of Education: Cyber Safety https://www.education.wa.edu.au/cyber-safety 

Documents and reports: 

eSafety Commissioner: Research library https://www.esafety.gov.au/about-the-office/research-library 

Benefits of Social Networking Services https://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/476337/The-Benefits-of-Social-Networking-Services.pdf 

Cultural safety for Aboriginal Children https://www.cam.org.au/Portals/0/2016/documents/06092016153629-0001.pdf 

Cyber safety in Remote Aboriginal Communities https://apo.org.au/node/172076 

Early Childhood AustraliaDigital Policy Statement http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Digital-policy-statement.pdf 

Education for a Connected World Framework https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-for-a-connected-world 

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