Cybersafety – Publicly funded computers

What is this policy about?

From 1 July 2012 it is expected that all grant recipients funded according to the terms and conditions of the Department of Social Services (DSS) grant 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 Department 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 Department 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 Department’s decision has been implemented by DSS under of the Terms and Conditions of the Funding Agreement, which enables DSS 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 available here

A letter providing the policy to each of DSS’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 DSS enforce this policy?

The safety and well-being of clients is a core business responsibility of publicly funded grant recipients and it is expected that most grant recipients 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 grant recipients 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.

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

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