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 Digital Youth Forum ‘digiengage - Our Diverse Digital Future’




It's no surprise that over 80 percent of teenagers aged 14 - 17 see the internet as a very important part of their lives. And research suggests that going online is a central activity for social interaction, education, knowledge gathering and exposure to new experiences. This high level of interaction carries some risk. Examples include online grooming, child exploitation, cyber bullying and exposure to vile propaganda from extremist groups.

Governments and the digital industry around the world share concern about online propaganda and hatred. In Australia, the Australian Government and industry are working together to find solutions. The newly formed Australian peak body Digital Industry Group Incorporated (DIGI) –  including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo7 – have  been working with us on a range of initiatives, including our recent Digital Youth Forum - 'engage - our diverse digital future'.

The forum bought together 130 digital natives and thought leaders from around Australia to talk about ways to promote tolerance, diversity and positive engagement online. These digital advocates brought a range of ideas and interests that were drawn from their own experience, ranging from race, faith, gender, health and digital awareness.

The event was officially opened by Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan who reminded the audience of their instinctive ability to use social media to tell their story and engage a wider audience on issues that may directly affect them and their families.

Entertainers Rosie and Lucy Thomas from Project Rockit encouraged the audience to create real social change, and DIGI representatives were on hand to share their expertise and knowledge on what it means to be a ‘good digital citizen’. Advocacy groups All Together Now, Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and ReachOut ran workshops to teach participants how to identify and respond to hate speech online, how to leverage their skills as leaders, and how to promote inclusivity and cross-cultural collaboration online.

Participants were encouraged to share live content throughout the day, by filming themselves in the mobile YouTube studio and sharing the twitter hashtag #digiengage. Within hours the hashtag was trending, and was one of the top three tags in Melbourne that day.

At the end of the event, participants spoke positively about their experience of meeting other people who all want to make a difference. As our future leaders, they walked away feeling confident they can inspire others to tackle violence and hate-speech online, by sharing positive messages and stories that show just how accepting and tolerant a society we are.

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We look forward to hearing from you.  The Living Safe Together Team.