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#metoo sparks #watchit - QUT gives voice to schoolgirls to end cyberbullying

16th May 2018

A social movement that aims to end cyberbullying by 2025, by using the hashtag #watchit, was inspired as a result of a school-based innovation workshop at QUT.

Encouraged to be ‘tech entrepreneurs’ for the day, up to 100 schoolgirls from south-east Queensland attended Myriad High on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 as part of the Myriad innovation festival in Brisbane.

Curated by the digital economy team in the QUT Business School, the girls aged 15 and older, were set a real world problem to solve – by 2025 there is no more cyberbullying.

They were taught to use ‘innovation lenses’ to approach the complex issue which affects one in five Australian children, according to the e-Safety Office.

The girls were mentored by leading female tech pioneers including scientist Nathalie Mezza-Garcia (pictured below with winning team), Sarah Moran from Girl Geek Academy, QUT’s Dr Deb Polson and software engineer of Palo Alto Networks Shadi Rostami.

Scientist Nathalie Mezza-Garcia (left) of Blue Frontiers who helped mentor the girls.

Six finalists were chosen from among 20 schools, with the winning team promoting cultural change similar to the #metoo movement.

The girls from Queensland Academies of Creative Industries (QACI) told the judges people can be empowered to “change a culture with a culture”.

The team said bystanders of cyberbullying could be roused to help prevent the online behaviour by calling it out using the hashtag #watchit.

The judging panel included QUT Vice Chancellor Margaret Sheil, former CIA officer and national security officer to Vice President Biden Yael Eisenstat, QUT Professor Rowena Barrett and Kristy Simpkin from Women in Technology.

Finalists Bundaberg State High pitched a social media app that attacks the habits of "bullies".

 

Ms Eisenstat said the #watchit idea stood out because the pitch centred on changing a culture rather than infringing on peoples’ privacy.

“This is something you can start right away, it’s not something you have to find a lot of money to do and it’s completely viable,” Ms Eisenstal said.

The Queensland Government has set up an anti-bullying taskforce which is expected to report to State Parliament before the end of the year.

MEDIA NOTE: Media are welcome to use images via Flickr gallery.

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Debra Nowland | media officer (Mon, Wed, Thurs) | QUT Marketing & Communication | 07 3138 1150 | d.nowland@qut.edu.au

After hours, Rose Trapnell, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

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