Save the Children has urged the Federal Government to abandon its plans to censor the internet, saying it will not be effective in protecting kids from online dangers.
The child protection group is one of several organisations including Civil Liberties Australia, and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre who have today released a joint statement opposing the proposed mandatory internet service provider (ISP) filter.
The statement says the filter will neither work to shield children from explicit material nor stop child pornography from being distributed on the internet.
The organisations want the funds that would be spent implementing the scheme to be funnelled to child protection authorities and police to help prevent child abuse.
The filter aims to block all material which has been refused classification such as violent or pornographic sites.
Save the Children's child rights spokeswoman Annie Pettitt says proposed scheme is heavy handed and poorly targeted.
"We are a child rights based organisation and we maintain that it's essential to keep a balance between what's in the best interests of children and encouraging and supporting them to be active citizens and making informed choices for themselves," she said.
Ms Pettitt also says the filter will not be able to block the distribution of child pornography through other means such as email distribution lists, chat rooms and file sharing networks.
She believes the Government should instead focus on educating children and parents about safe internet usage.
"We're concerned that the scheme really doesn't provide education for children or families or equip them to be aware of how to use the internet well," she said.
"We believe it's really better to teach children so that they have the ability to recognise and steer clear of inappropriate online content for themselves."
The statement is also supported by lobby group GetUp! which has already been campaigning against the filter.
It will begin airing ads on television tonight urging the public to say no to the filter.
The Government has been trialing the filter since late May and is due to report this month on the outcomes of the trial.
It has faced fierce criticism that it will strangle free speech on the internet, is open to potential government abuse and will ban sites that should not be coming under scrutiny.
In March an alleged list of sites already banned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority was leaked online, revealing that harmless sites had also been marked as unacceptable.
Internet provider iiNet also pulled out of the trial in March, saying the filter would not work.
In May last year the Government said it would spend $125.8 million over four years on several measures to strengthen cyber safety, including the filter.
In a statement Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy says the filter is in no way designed to curtail freedom of speech.
He says the filter is only part of the Government's cyber-safety plan which also includes extra law enforcement, extra education and resource measures and consultation with child protection bodies.
He also says the Government is considering ways to strengthen oversight over the filter's ability to block sites which have been refused classification.
By Emma Rodgers