Cybersafety – Publicly funded computers

What is this policy about?

From 1 July 2012 it is expected that all service providers funded according to the terms and conditions of the former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) standard funding agreement will take reasonable steps to protect their clients, and particularly children, from the risks of harmful content and harmful or inappropriate use of computers and digital technology.

Why has this policy been adopted?

The Australian Government is concerned about cybersafety and has a range of strategies in place for the protection of vulnerable people. 

In the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory policy statement which was issued in November 2011, the Government indicated that the publicly funded computer measure that has been legislated since 2007 would be replaced with a non-legislative measure where all Commonwealth funding agreements, not just those in the Indigenous area, will require funded organisations to take steps to minimise inappropriate use of publicly funded computers.

The Government’s decision has been implemented by FaHCSIA under of the Terms and Conditions of the Standard Funding Agreement, which enables FaHCSIA to advise funded providers at any time of a Commonwealth policy or change to a policy, that funded providers must comply with.

Where do I find more detail about this policy?

The policy is published on the DSS website on the Doing Business with DSS page. 

A letter providing the policy to each of the Department’s grant fundees was sent on 8 June 2012.

What does ‘taking reasonable steps’ mean?

Reasonable steps to protect may include having a policy in place about appropriate use of computers and cybersafety protection for staff and clients, along with filters, audits and providing information or training to staff and clients about cybersafety.    

How will the Department enforce this policy?

The safety and well-being of clients is a core business responsibility of publicly funded service providers and it is expected that most service providers would already have steps in place.  From time to time we may conduct site visits and ask to see a service provider’s policy or we may ask service providers to report on their policies as part of normal performance assessment reporting. There is a range of laws in place that all members of the community must comply with and for which there are already enforcement arrangements.

Where can my organisation get help in implementing this policy?

Your IT manager or IT service provider should be able to provide help and guidance about protections already on your IT and phone systems and equipment and additional steps that could be considered.

Online safety and security at the national level is the portfolio responsibility of the Department of Communications. This department provides information about the Government’s ongoing commitment to providing a safe online environment for all families and community members.

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