Page 2317 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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These legislative reforms, however they are passed by the Assembly, need to be accompanied by a commitment from the government to provide initiatives to support victims and work to change the attitudes of young people—in fact all people—through education programs, therapy and restorative justice. A simple way to start to implement this would be to update the respectful relationships education in schools to include a module on coercive behaviours in and out of intimate relationships, including the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.

I also note the press reports about the universities, and, in particular, the ANU’s response to sexual abuse issues on their campuses. They have said that they intend to introduce much better education, at least for their students who are in residential colleges, about consent and what it means and does not mean. This is a society-wide issue and we all need to be part of the solution.

A number of submissions have called for a helpline to provide support, assistance and legal advice for victims of non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and a public education campaign to raise awareness of these changes, their repercussions and their options for seeking relief.

The most important point we can stress—and submission after submission echoed this—is that no legal reform can stand alone, and the only way the ACT can effectively combat non-consensual sharing of intimate images, or indeed any type of domestic or family violence, is with well-funded, well-resourced and well-managed support services, education programs, non-legal remedy options and institutional training for educators, the legal and medical professions, law enforcement, government decision-makers and service providers.

Doctors Flynn, Henry and Powell from the RMIT recommend a campaign that encourages and promotes proactive bystander intervention to challenge problematic behaviours and targets victim-blaming and the “locker room” culture of image-based abuse. They also drew attention to the “be aware b4 you share” campaign that the UK government rolled out on Facebook and Twitter, through television and radio ads and through a widespread poster campaign. This campaign targeted perpetrators of non-consensual sharing and not just potential victims.

I want very much to thank all the individuals and organisations that provided submissions. We have listened to you. We hope that you feel that your views have been reflected in our new and, we believe, improved bill. Our consultation report endeavours to credit all of your hard work and all of your feedback, and we look forward to engaging again with you on further reforms that are needed.

In closing, I reiterate how pleased I am that this is an issue where there appears to be broad tripartisan support in the chamber. Whether or not this becomes a cognate debate or whether the bill is amended, I am confident that in the end there will be better protections for Canberra’s citizens against the ever-increasing phenomenon of using social media and other platforms to abuse, denigrate, threaten, extort, coerce and vilify others by the non-consensual taking or sharing of, or threatening to take or share, intimate images.

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