STAWELL residents packed the Stawell Secondary College Hall last Wednesday night to discuss how their town can embrace cybersafety and tackle cyberbullying to become Australia's first eSmart town.
eSmart provides schools and libraries with a road map to cybersafety and helps to equip community organisations with the knowledge they need to educate everyone in the community on how to be smart, safe and responsible online.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation's eSmart Schools team, met with school principals in October 2013 in response to increasing complaints about online bullying in Stawell.
The eSmart schools team returned in December to deliver a full day of eSmart training to more than 120 teachers from several Stawell and district schools.
Grampians Community Health's School Focused Youth Service Coordinator, Maurice Billi said that seeing eSmart in action in schools provided further proof that more needed to be done using the community's greatest resource - young people themselves.
"After seeing eSmart in our local schools in Stawell, we realised that young people are our greatest resource when it comes to cybersafety," he said.
"They know the latest technology and they know what their friends are doing online - the good and the bad.
"Our job is to learn from them and support them to ensure they are safe and supported online."
CEO of The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, Dr Judith Slocombe said it was fantastic to see the drive and determination of Stawell's Community Action Network.
"It has been wonderful to work with Stawell and to help them make their vision of creating a cybersafe town a reality," she said.
"This is the first time a whole town and all the elements have come together to ensure leadership within the community has a combined approach to cybersafety and cyberbullying.
"Our goal is to create these community hubs right around Australia - and we will continue to support the Stawell community, support their young people."
eSmart impacts the environments where children are likely to use technology - at school, in public libraries and at home.
Many schools and libraries are already working collaboratively with the broader community to draw on a greater depth of expertise.