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Government to legislate for new sexting offence

Tuesday, 10 December 2013
The Victorian Coalition Government will legislate for a new summary offence for non-consensual sexting, while also ensuring that young persons who engage in sexting are not convicted of child pornography offences.
 
These are the key outcomes of the Government’s response to the Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee’s ‘Inquiry into Sexting’.
 
The Government has accepted in full or in principle 11 of the 14 recommendations, including further recommendations regarding education about cyber-safety and warning young people about the problems of sexting.
 
As part of its response, the Government will introduce legislation to create a new offence for non-consensual sexting. 
 
“This new law will respond specifically to the issue of sexting to ensure that appropriate penalties apply to those who misuse this technology,” Attorney-General, Robert Clark said. 
 
“It will make it an offence to intentionally distribute, or threaten to distribute, an intimate image of another person or persons without their consent.
 
“This will continue to make clear that such behaviour is unacceptable and illegal, while not treating young people who distribute such images as child pornographers or rendering them liable to consequences such as being placed on the Sex Offenders Register.”
 
Significant work is already under way within Victoria’s education system to improve awareness of these issues through training and specific information campaigns. 
 
The Coalition Government’s response to the report recognises the importance of teacher training in this area to help educate children on the behaviour of people distributing intimate images. 
 
“This work is aimed at teaching teenagers, parents and educators about the risks associated with this kind of online behaviour, and building skills to avoid dangerous situations in the electronic environment,” Mr Clark said.
 
The Government has not accepted three recommendations, as these are more appropriately considered at the Commonwealth level. Mr Clark said that the possibility of a statutory cause of action relating to the misuse of private information is currently being considered by the Australian Law Reform Commission.  As the regulation of digital communications is a Commonwealth responsibility, a digital communications tribunal should also be a Commonwealth tribunal.
 
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