New laws that would see big tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter liable for harm caused by cyber bullying and violence are urgently needed to ensure social media platforms have a strong financial incentive to stamp out harmful behaviour online, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers will tell a Senate inquiry on cyber bullying.
Maurice Blackburn Principal Josh Bornstein, who will tomorrow appear at the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee inquiry into cyber bullying, said that for too long social media platforms have helped to enable cyberbullying, without ever being held to account for the harm caused, including injury and death.
“Politicians should approach the need to make cyberspace safe much in the same way that our current laws require workplaces to be safe - by imposing a duty of care on the big tech companies and by allowing individuals to sue when that duty is breached,” Mr Bornstein said.
“Groups like Facebook and Twitter are often quick to distance themselves from instances of cyber bullying, when what they should be doing is taking decisive action to minimise such behaviour on their platforms and in making sure people are protected.
“While we welcome comments today from Minister Kelly O’Dwyer warning Facebook and Twitter to lift their standards, governments have typically taken a timid approach to regulation in this area – even criminal acts in cyber space are rarely prosecuted.
“Europe is leading the charge on regulating the internet but Australian legislators are lagging behind. New Zealand introduced its own anti cyber-bullying legislation in 2015.
“That’s why we believe regulatory responsibility is urgently needed to prompt greater action from social media platforms to act on cyber bullying and violence - if victims had the tools to take on groups like Facebook and Twitter then those companies would be compelled to commit serious resources to clean up their platforms.
“We also want to see enforceable sanctions against employers who fail to protect against cyber bullying in workplaces.
“In today’s world there is an increasing expectation for staff to be actively engaged with social media for their work, in industries such as the media in particular, yet many employers are not taking steps to protect their staff from the obvious risks that can come with this,” he said.
The convenience of the Opal card is now coming to the train station carpark, with public transport customers set to “tap on” for up to 18 hours free parking.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance announced that a successful trial of Opal carparks will soon be extended to Ashfield, before expanding to several other stations across the network.
“We want to make it easier for customers to access public transport and this trial aims to ensure that carparks provided by the NSW Government for commuters are used by the people they are intended for,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Research shows up to 46 per cent of people in some areas who use commuter carparks did not intend to catch public transport and this trial has been designed to ensure that it is genuine customers who benefit from these facilities.”
Opal Park & Ride will provide customers with up to 18 hours free parking each day if they use public transport. Customers need to complete a journey by tapping on and off using their Opal card, then use their Opal card when they exit the carpark.
Customers who do not catch public transport within 18 hours from the time of entry will be charged at a daily rate in line with the commercial rates for the local area.
“The Opal Park & Ride trial started on the Northern Beaches in January at the B-Line commuter carpark in Dee Why. The system will now be installed at the remaining B-Line commuter carparks throughout the year,” Mr Constance said.
“Customers at Ashfield Station will be the first train customers to experience the system when it begins around the middle of the year. We are investigating which other train stations could be included in the trial.”
Ashfield commuter carpark was upgraded under the NSW Government’s Transport Access Program, an initiative to deliver safe, modern and accessible public transport infrastructure across the state.
“The upgrade of this multi-storey carpark means an extra 96 car spaces, and 235 in total, for customers who want to park their car at the station before continuing their journey on public transport,” said Mr Constance said.
“It includes a new lift to assist our less mobile customers, as well as the latest CCTV technology and lighting to improve security.”
The NSW Government has invested more than $1 billion in the Transport Access Program since 2011, with over 400 projects completed across the state, including the delivery of more than 6,000 commuter car spaces.
New analysis shows just one in four students are entering university undergraduate courses based on their ATAR, exposing a huge contrast to the importance placed on ATAR in schools.
The latest paper by Mitchell Institute at Victoria University explores how different sectors use the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank or ‘ATAR’, and asks if this system is getting in the way of education goals.
Mitchell Institute Director, Megan O’Connell, said today’s paper should prompt governments and educators to look at how young people are moving from school to further study and careers, and consider if the ATAR’s number is up.
“The question parents, students and teachers should be asking today is, if ATAR doesn’t matter for three quarters of undergraduate admissions, why is it treated as the most important outcome of 13 years of schooling?” Ms O’Connell said.
“To be successful in future jobs and participate in society, young people need a broad range of knowledge, skills and capabilities that might not all contribute to a high ATAR.
“Schools could play a leading role in growing students’ talents and developing capabilities that are important for lifelong success, but this is often overlooked in favour of teaching content for high ATARs.”
The ATAR is a useful, transparent tool for universities to compare students when deciding entry to high demand undergraduate courses but with more places now available across the board, the ATAR’s usefulness is declining overall.
Changes to the tertiary sector have seen the amount of students commencing higher education grow by 46 percent in less than ten years since 2007, and more avenues being used to gain entry. However this shift has not been reflected in schools, where ATAR is often seen as the ultimate goal for students and their families, a marker of school excellence and an indicator of course quality at universities.
These broader uses have implications, such as Year 12 students choosing certain subjects just to boost their ATAR, potentially altering their school experience. ATAR is even influencing career decisions – some students believe university courses with high cut-off scores are higher quality, so choose these over courses better-suited to their passions to avoid ‘wasting’ their ATAR.
Ms O’Connell said policy makers should think about how to support successful transitions from school that prioritise individual strengths, capabilities, interests and career opportunities over ‘spending’ of an ATAR.
“We have great teachers trying groundbreaking methods to engage students and give them the tools to reach their very best but they sometimes face resistance if approaches don’t deliver high ATARs.
“It is time to look across our education system, decide what we want it to deliver for young people, for communities and for our future economy, then consider what role, if any, the ATAR should play.”
The paper, Crunching the number: Exploring the use and the usefulness of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) is available at www.mitchellinstitute.org.au ENDS
Consumers can now enjoy extended expiry dates on gift cards thanks to NSW Government reforms set to kick in this weekend, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said.
Mr Kean said the new gift card laws officially begin today and are a big win for consumers across the state.
“These reforms put consumers first by mandating a minimum three-year expiry date for all gift cards sold in NSW,” Mr Kean said.
Under the new laws, businesses will also be banned from applying post-purchase administration fees to gift cards, which reduce the balance left on the card.
Most gift cards previously came with a 12-month expiry date; however, up to eight per cent of recipients did not use the full balance in time.
Mr Kean said the reforms would therefore put up to $60 million a year back in the hands of NSW shoppers.
“This is all about giving consumers confidence that when they buy gift cards for friends or relatives, they’re getting value for money,” Mr Kean said.
In response to the reforms, some retailers including Woolworths, have decided to scrap expiry dates altogether for gift cards sold across the nation.
“These Australian-first reforms send a strong message that NSW is leading the way in putting consumers first, and I commend those businesses which are delivering for their customers by providing even more flexibility,” Mr Kean said.
Gift cards purchased before 31 March 2018 will have the same expiry date and terms and conditions that applied at the time of purchase.
NSW continues to deliver strong housing approvals with more than 71,000 new homes approved in the 12 months to January 2018, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said that the NSW Government’s strategy to get first homebuyers into the market was working and the numbers show that the home building is maintaining its strong momentum.
“NSW housing approvals have remained at least 40 per cent above the State target of 50,000 annual approvals since November 2015,” Mr Roberts said.
“A strong approvals pipeline ensures that new homes continue to be built, adding to jobs and growth, and relieving the pressure on house prices.
“Since the last election, we have averaged almost 73,000 building approvals a year. That is more than twice the annual rate of building approvals under Labor’ anemic figures of just 31,600 approvals a year.
“This demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to putting downward pressure on house prices for New South Wales families.
“We have streamlined the development application process for new homes and set a target of 90 per cent of DAs being approved in less than 40 days.
“On top of that, infrastructure has also been a critical factor in helping us deliver record levels of housing approvals, especially in Greenfield areas in the North West and South West.
“We will continue to invest in world-class transport, hospitals, schools and green space as well as ensuring that housing is affordable, Mr Roberts said.
Up to 1,000 drivers under the age of 25 will be given the chance to participate in an innovative NSW Government trial with in-car technology aimed at reducing road casualties across the state.
Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello and Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey today announced the telematics trial would run for six months, with participants receiving $100 via the NSW Green Slip scheme.
Telematics, which is like a “black box” for cars, is widely used internationally in the motor vehicle insurance industry to record and rate driver behaviour, such as speed, acceleration, braking and turning.
Mr Dominello said the deployment of telematics technology via the CTP insurance scheme could help to improve road crash rates among younger drivers.
“The research shows that drivers who use telematics become safer and better able to adapt to changing driving conditions as a result of the real-time feedback,” Mr Dominello said.
“We want the NSW CTP scheme to be cutting edge and this technology has the potential to reduce Green Slips for young drivers. Most importantly, this technology has the potential to save lives.”
Mrs Pavey said: “Western Sydney drivers under 25 years are up to 4.5 times more likely to be involved in casualty crashes, and up to 5 times more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in serious injury or fatality.”
The trial will commence in the second half of the year, and an expressions of interest process will be held to identify the type of technology to be used. A partial payment will be made at the beginning of the trial, with the remainder paid on successful completion of the trial.
Young drivers who hold P1, P2 or unrestricted licences will be able to participate in the trial. Eligible drivers can pre-register at www.sira.nsw.gov.au