Are you safe, Virtually?
Friday, 19 March 2021 is the National Day of action against bullying and violence. In today’s world, there is a trend towards bullying and violence which is not just found in the schoolyard, domestically or when groups of people come together in the same physical space. This bullying and violence also extends to the virtual world. All of us, including our families and our children have the potential to be exposed to online bullying which is exacerbated by the increasing amount of time we all spend online.
We often see clients who, in a family law context, may have been the victim of online abuse or image-based abuse, including being the target of online abuse via social media or being threatened that intimate images may be distributed online. Such acts of intimidation can fall within the definition of Family Violence under the Family Law Act 1975 and this type of behaviour can give rise to complaints and prosecution of perpetrators.
The Australian Government has appointed an Esafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, and Australia has the world’s first government agency committed to keeping its citizens safer online. The Esafety commissioner has powers to deal with cyber bullying, image-based abuse, and illegal and harmful online content. The purpose of the initiative is to educate the community and address the issues of cyber bullying and other forms of online based abuse. The Esafety Commissioner also provides resources and support to people experiencing this type of abuse and bullying. The Esafety commissioner helps Australians by receiving complaints and acting against perpetrators of this type of abuse. The Esafety commissioner has the power to prosecute offenders and remove specific content from the internet if it is satisfied that there has been an instance of image-based abuse.
Education in relation to these issues is most important. It is essential that we continue to speak openly to our loved ones, particularly our children about these issues so they have the tools to enable them to adequately protect themselves in the virtual world.
For further information regarding the Esafety commissioner and to learn how to educate and protect your loved ones on how to connect safely with others online, please visit www.Esafety.gov.au. The website is easy to navigate with specific tabbed sections for the various community members including parents, women, children, young persons, and seniors. It features information in a way that is easy to understand along with interactive presentations and programs.
If you have been the victim of cyber bullying or image-based abuse by your partner, a member of our specialist family law team can discuss your rights and potential remedies with you with you in a private consultation.