Frontline workers in health, education and law enforcement provide essential services directly to the public. They often work with people facing online safety issues and have a unique opportunity to help their patients, students or clients.
This research highlights the experiences of frontline workers and the systemic barriers they face to providing support. It shows the need for more resources and education about online safety issues.
Interviews were conducted with 18 health and welfare professionals, 30 people working in education and 16 law enforcement workers. The research was done in 2019.
- The most common experiences that clients of workers encounter are cyberbullying, image-based abuse and technology-facilitated abuse.
- The types of issues depend on the profession. For example, educators see a broader range of safety issues in the course of their work compared to General Practitioners.
- Frontline workers respond to online issues differently, based on the nature of their work.
- Early childhood and primary school educators are more likely to take an active role in dealing with student online issues. Secondary school educators generally make academic achievement their priority.
- Law enforcement officers working in general policing have tight timeframes and they focus on evidence gathering or the potential for prosecution.