Approximately 550 kilometres from the tropical city of Cairns, on a road that quickly changes from bitumen to red dirt, lies the Cape York town of Coen.
Most people travel to Coen in a 4-wheel-drive en route to the tip of Australia. It is an important supply point on the Peninsula Development Road, the main road on the Cape York Peninsula.
The 2016 Census estimated the population of Coen at less than 400 people. However, this number swells in the winter months when travellers from across Australia descend on Cape York to take the iconic photoat Australia’s most northern point.
Internet connection along the Peninsula Development Road is almost non-existent and one of the first signals our CROC crew had that we we're nearing Coen was when our phones started bleeping with missed messages as wewere entering an area with excellent connectivity.
But it is this connectivity that makes this remote community vulnerable to identity theft and cybercrime. Most residents have access to mobile phones and IDCARE’s National Case Management Centre has engaged with clients who had their identity compromised after engaging with a scammer posing as Amazon.
Coen has a range of shops and services, including general stores, an aged care service, health clinic, police station and a local school,the Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy.
And it is this school that our CROC team had the privilege of sharing information with the students and staff from Prep to Grade 6 on howto engage safely online.
Cyber resilience education needs to begin in Prep, because online literacy is an important part of literacy. IDCARE is aware of cyber criminals posing as children to get other children to share photographs.
While many students, particularly the younger ones, didn’t have the words to explain what the “internet” was (who could blame them!), they all responded with keen enthusiasm, especially when we asked about their favourite apps. Minecraft and TikTok provided the launchpad for key messages such as “passwords long and strong” and “never leave to the app to chat”.
We held two sessions at the school, one for Prep to year 3 and one for Year 3 to Year 6.
Watch some of the students share their understanding of the internet and scams. It is insightful!
Thanks CYAAA and, in particular, principal Ben Foran, for making our team so welcome!
We hope you enjoyed the colouring-in poster and pencils.
From school, our team went to the Coen Women’s Support Centre where we joined in the 10am Women’s Group for morning tea.
The women were warm and welcoming as they had never had someone come and talk to them directly about the risks of identity theft, scams and cybercrime.
Several women shared how they, or someone they knew closely, had their Facebook account hacked. What was of concern is many of these women admitted they simply created a new account and were unaware how the old account could be used by cyber criminals to dupe others.
We were able to show the women how to put multi-factor authentication on their social media accounts and how to create complicated passwords. We’ve also promised we’ll come back to presen to more people who were unable to make the morning tea visit.