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Tasmanian Schools Targeted in Overseas Pornography Ring

  -  Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tags: Education, Schools, Bullying, Cyber-Bullying

Ms DAWKINS question to MINISTER for EDUCATION, Mr ROCKLIFF

[10.37 a.m.]

What is your response to the reports which emerged yesterday of two Tasmanian schools being targeted in an overseas pornography ring?  Are you aware that images of girls and young women who attend Tasmanian schools are being shared online, with logos used to identify the schools?  Are you able to confirm the schools which have been targeted and outline what actions the department is taking to end this sickening exploitation?  Have you spoken to the principals of the schools concerned and have the students been offered counselling and support?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question, and I concur with her description of such a very serious issue.  The school pornography ring which was reported yesterday in a News Limited article are very serious and disturbing allegations indeed.  The Department of Education is working with authorities to investigate further.  We are committed to supporting schools to combat bullying, particularly cyber-bullying.  This is taking cyber-bullying to another, more extreme, level.  We are also committed to ensuring all schools are safe, inclusive and very supportive environments.  Ensuring our students are safe and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying is an absolute priority for the Department of Education, me as minister and I am sure all members of this House.

The allegations are of an extremely serious cyber-safety incident, suggesting the involvement of two Tasmanian government schools - one college and one school.  The department will work with authorities on investigating this matter further, and that is actively taking place as we speak.  All incidents of inappropriate behaviour are taken extremely seriously by me, the Government and the department and support is offered to anyone who may be affected by such incidents.

The department has very strong policies that have been in place for a number of years now and this is instilled in our Respectful Schools, Respectful Behaviour framework.  I am happy to provide further information as it comes to hand, Ms Dawkins.  I understand that all members of this House would be deeply disturbed by the allegations yesterday, and I agree with those feelings.  The department is working with the schools and families affected and investigating further.