26 September 2023

AFL takes a kick at online eSafety

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The Australian eSafety Commissioner has signed an agreement with the Australian Football League (AFL) to help improve online safety for AFL players, fans and the broader community.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the eSafety Commissioner will provide online safety training to the AFL and its clubs as well as provide advice on best practice approaches to keeping people safe online.

It will also raise awareness of the steps Australians can take to #PlayItFairOnline.

eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant formally recognised the partnership with the AFL’s Executive General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch during last weekend’s match between Richmond and Fremantle at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium (22 July).

Ms Inman Grant said the long-term partnership with the AFL promised to be a game-changer for players, clubs and fans.

“Increasingly, we’re finding the cheapest seats in the house are behind a keyboard,” Ms Inman Grant, “as the game has moved online, it’s unleashed a torrent of abuse which can be very personal and unrelenting.”

“Through this partnership, eSafety and the AFL are taking a united stance against online abuse and saying, ‘enough is enough’,” she said.

“Hate speech and harmful personal attacks have no place in sport or any other arena.”

The AFL’s Tanya Hosch said the AFL wanted all players, staff, fans, and footy families from the grassroots to the elite level to be safe in the AFL environment: “and that includes online.”

“AFL and AFL Women players have too often been the targets of racist, sexist, homophobic and other forms of online abuse, including some of the biggest stars in our game,” Ms Hosch said.

“This has no place in our game,” she said.

“Online abuse is harmful and can seriously impact the wellbeing and mental health of individuals, families and communities, so we take seriously, our responsibility and opportunity to strengthen and enhance our partnership with eSafety and stand together to say this is never OK.”

The agreement partners said their MOU follows a significant increase in complaints to eSafety about all types of online abuse in Australia over the past two years.

“Complaints about adult cyber abuse rose by 93 per cent in 2021 compared to 2019, while child cyberbullying reports increased by 69 per cent,” they said.

As part of the agreement, the AFL will continue to support eSafety’s #PlayitFairOnline campaign to help educate fans on how they can combat online abuse and protect themselves and others online.

The #PlayitFairOnline can be accessed on the eSafety Commission’s website at this PS News link.

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