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Have your say about protecting children online

Government Inquiry into age restrictions seeks submissions

You have one more day to submit responses to a Federal Parliament inquiry into the effectiveness of age verification for online access to gambling and pornography.

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The Australian Christian Lobby and Christian Schools Australia are two groups encouraging members of the public to have their say about protecting children from content that has “negative influence”.

Submissions close on October 25 to the inquiry led by the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by MP Andrew Wallace. The inquiry will look at the existing online gambling age-verification process, whether it works, and could it apply to pornography sites viewed by Australians.

“While customers must verify their age within 14 days to continue using an online wagering account, an age verification process is not required at all for customers to access online pornography,” MP Wallace said when announcing the inquiry.

“This is concerning, as research shows that accessing pornography negatively influences young peoples’ attitudes to sex, sexuality and relationships.”

According to the committee, 44 per cent of children between 9 and 16 report that they have encountered sexual images online.

“We are encouraging all schools to consider sharing their experiences of the impact of access to online gambling and pornography websites by students to the Committee.”

Australian Christian Lobby provided suggestions for points which could be made in public submissions, including:

  • Thank the government for recognising the health harm to children of pornography and urge them to act to provide protection.
  • Pornography sexualises children and puts them at risk – we cannot delay in taking action to protect them.
  • Pornography eroticises violence towards women and girls and is linked to the early sexualisation of children.
  • The alarming increase in child-on-child sexual assault is directly correlated to the increase in exposure of children to pornography.
  • Most children first see pornography by accident. Age-verification controls can stop this.
  • Age-verification is one way to help parents address the issue of online safety.

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