Protections for ‘revenge porn’ victims enter NSW Parliament


New South Wales Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman on Wednesday introduced legislation to state Parliament with the aim of offering further protections for victims of the distribution of non-consensual intimate images and videos online, colloquially known as “revenge porn”.

Under the proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act 1986, victims of intimate image abuse would have the same court protections as other sexual assault complainants. Judicial officers would also have greater powers to order images and recordings be destroyed.

Speakman said the proposed reforms acknowledge the seriousness of these types of offences and the distress and damage they inflict on victims’ lives.

See also: New Australian Online Safety Act to include take-down of cyber abuse

“Coming to court can often involve extensive questioning about intimate details of a victim’s experience and the terrible hurt caused. These reforms are aimed at helping to reduce the trauma of that experience,” he said.

“It is vital victims know if they report intimate image abuse that they will be appropriately supported in court, while also helping them regain privacy and dignity.” 

The proposed reforms allow the court to order an offender to remove, retract, delete, or destroy an intimate image when found guilty of threatening to distribute it without consent.

“What happens to intimate images can be a source of ongoing fear and trauma for many victims, and our Bill seeks to address that anxiety,” Speakman added. “It will give victims some sense of control and peace of mind that even when only a threat is made, that those images can no longer be accessed or disseminated in the future.

See also: Facebook gets about 500,000 reports of revenge porn a month, report says (CNET)

“Unfortunately, the rapid advent of technology has facilitated a rise in this type of criminal behaviour, so it is crucial our justice response keeps pace.”

The amendments, if passed, would also provide victims with the ability to give evidence remotely and in a closed court, access a support person, have their identity protected from publication, and avoid cross-examination by an unrepresented accused personally.

Citing the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Speakman said there were 296 charges for intimate image offences between July 2018 and June 2019, and 420 charges laid between July 2019 and June this year.

The Australian government in August 2018 passed legislation aimed at protecting citizens from revenge porn by mandating civil and criminal penalties.

Under the legislation, individuals could face civil penalties of up to AU$105,000 and corporations of up to AU$525,000 if they do not remove an image when requested to by the eSafety Commissioner.

IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW IN AUSTRALIA NEEDS HELP CONTACT ONE OF THESE SERVICES:

  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890
  • QLife on 1800 184 527

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