ADJOURNMENT;Cybersecurity – 14 May 2013

As Chair of the Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, I often hear stories of mobile phone technology being used in a negative way. Tonight, however, I would like to speak about a new, positive, online resource developed by the Women’s Legal Service Tasmania. It was launched last month by the member for Franklin, the Hon. Julie Collins MP, Minister for the Status of Women, and is named, appropriately, the Girls Gotta Know app.

The Women’s Legal Service Tasmania is a free community legal service funded by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department. The Women’s Legal Service Tasmania provides advice, information, representation, referral and education for women. It is important for all people to know what their legal rights are, so this organisation plays a very important role.

Many people, particularly young people, do not know what their rights are, even for important things like housing or issues to do with money. The Girls Gotta Know app aims to change this. The app provides young Tasmanian women with legal information on six main categories: housing, employment, relationships, money, general information and partying and trouble.

The app is aimed at girls and young women aged between 14 and 24. This is an important time in the lives of young women. They often enter their first relationships, gain their first jobs, move out of home for the first time, get their first credit cards and may start receiving government benefits. It can be a time of great turmoil, and often of confusion and they may not know who to turn to for help. This app will provide them the important information they require to navigate the legal issues that may occur at this time of life. With a mobile app, users can very handily access the information at any time, especially when an issue arises and they need instant access to that information. It works via a web interface, so it will work on a smartphone, no matter what the brand.

Looking at the app, I found that the employment section provides particularly helpful information. It provides information not only with regard to entitlements but also, importantly, on bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, issues that unfortunately still exist in today’s society. The app is easy to understand, using very simple everyday language and avoiding legalese. It allows users to bookmark sections as favourites, so they can easily return to a section if they need to look at it again or share with a friend. The app also allows users to make notes which are securely stored by the app, which can then be referred to by the user at a later date. It is also entirely custom built, with original artwork, design and technical aspects. With the rollout of the NBN to Tasmania, we have an opportunity to capitalise on superfast broadband by producing high-quality IT products such as this app.

The app also provides information on how you can get in touch with the Women’s Legal Centre to get more advice and assistance if needed. This app is another important resource for young women to access help and legal advice when they need it. Providing young women with the tools and resources to help them know their rights is an important way of empowering young women. Young people are increasingly turning to the internet and apps first for information, and new technology like this app is important to raise community awareness of women’s issues. I congratulate Women’s Legal Services Tasmania in actively using new technology to engage with young women on important topics.

Finally, I make special mention of the 10 girls from New Norfolk High School who helped develop this app. It is important that the people whom apps are designed for have an input into the final product, and the students should be congratulated for their efforts. I encourage all young women in Tasmania to download the Girls Gotta Know app to their phones or access it from the mobile website, Hopefully, many young Tasmanian women will find it a valuable resource. This one clever, handy resource will provide them with all the information that they ‘gotta know’.