Online safety

There has been an increase in disrespect and abuse happening online.

It is so important to take all the necessary precautions to stay safe. But also important to be able to identify when someone else is making you feel unsafe and knowing what to do if this happens.

  • Check the eSafety guide for advice on privacy settings and how to protect your personal information.
  • Check your account and settings to ensure you are not sharing anything you wish to keep private.
  • Protect your devices, particularly Android devices against viruses, malware and spyware. There are apps you can download to reduce the risks. Have a look at these tips for internet and device safety.
  • Think about which apps really need to be able to access your location information and turn off location services for all others. If privacy or safety is a concern, do not opt into sharing your location through apps that allow location sharing with friends.
  • Turn off your apps and browsers and cover your webcam when not in use.
  • Learn how to avoid online scams and identity theft.

We are seeing an increase in people experiencing technology abuse such as; cyberbullying, image-based abuse and ‘sextortion’. With people spending more time online everyone is more susceptible to being targeted by scammers and online abusers, so it’s important to know what to look out for.

Technology-facilitated abuse can range from online bullying to stalking and involve a range of behaviours including:

  • abusive online messages, calls or texts
  • image-based abuse, where someone shares or threatens to share an intimate image of you without your consent
  • account takeovers, where someone accesses your online account and locks you out of them
  • fake social media accounts, when fake social media accounts are being used to harass you or post negative online comments about you.
  • being tracked through a phone or device. When tracking techniques or spyware are used to track where you are. This is sometimes used by a partner or ex-partner or family member in a family violence situation. So is important to recognise the warning signs.

Please watch this video by the Australian Government e-safety Commissioner on image-based abuse.

Watch video

Sextortion is a form of blackmail. This is where someone threatens to share intimate images of you online unless you give in to their demands usually for money. Blackmailers often target people through:

  • dating apps
  • social media
  • webcams
  • adult pornography sites.

The number one piece of advice in response to this is that you should never pay the scammers. There are also a number other Common Scams [PDF216] that you can familiarise yourself with. The more you know about what’s out there, the better equipped you will be to spot it if someone is trying to scam you.

This is the use of technology to hurt or intimidate someone. 1 in 5 young Australians report being bullied, excluded or threatened online. Cyberbullying includes behaviours such as:

  • Mean comments or rumours spread on social media sites, through email or through a text message:
    • using a victim’s password to break into their account to impersonate the victim or post embarrassing messages about them
    • posting an embarrassing video about someone
    • threatening someone through a live streaming system.

If you or someone you know is being affected by cyberbullying you can get in contract with our Safer Community Service.

If you notice a friend or person being bullied online here are some things you can do:

  • Direct Message (DM) your friend: Message your friend directly to make sure they’re OK. Remind them that you are available to support them if they need it.
  • Call it out: If you feel safe and confident, stand up to the person doing the bullying and make it clear that what they are doing is not right. This can be as subtle as a ‘thumbs down emoji’ or even a comment like ‘not cool’.
  • Get extra help: If your friend seems really impacted by the cyberbullying then speak to them about the supports offered by La Trobe such as the Student Counselling Service and Safer Community.
  • Help your friend to report cyberbullying: You can do this by contacting our Safer Community Service or by completing an online reporting tool provided by eSafety.

Please watch this video by Gender Equity Victoria which shows how we can all contribute to being a positive bystander online.

Watch video

Everyone has the right to their privacy; refrain from adding your classmates on other forms of social media until you have had a conversation with them and they consent.

Cyberbullying and technology-facilitated abuse are against the University policy. Cyberbullying can occur in many ways:

  • abusive texts and emails
  • messages, images or videos including image-based abuse (sometimes incorrectly referred to as ‘revenge porn’), where a person distributes or posts false, humiliating or intimate/sexualised videos or photos of a person without their consent
  • imitating others online by using an alias
  • humiliating, harassing or threatening people and/or their family or friends online
  • hacking and misusing another person’s email accounts
  • nasty online gossip and chat
  • spread misinformation about a person
  • encourages violence and harassment towards an individual or people with specific attributes

Support and resources

Internal support

  • Safer Community: If you have any online safety concerns including cyberbullying, online stalking or scams you can seek advice and support from our Safer Community service.
  • Counselling support: Provides counselling support on a range of issues that may be affecting a person’s wellbeing.
  • La Trobe Out of Hours Support Line: For mental health and wellbeing concerns from 5.00 pm–9.00 am weeknights and weekends and public holidays.

Safer Community Factsheets:

External support

  • E-Safety Commissioner: Provides a range of online safety and resources including support for online bullying complaints.
  • 1800 Respect: Information on safety apps for those concerned about personal safety as well as where you can report, seek support and advice if experiencing family violence.
  • Victoria Police: You can report or seek advice for now urgent events by phone or via online report. In an Emergency, contact 000.
  • Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch: Provides information on how to recognise, avoid and report scams.