Australian children are growing up in a digital, interactive, internet-enabled society and culture. While the benefits of such connectivity can be great, Collective Shout and our supporters are also very conscious of the potential for the internet to enable malicious, and illegal activities against children, as well as more broadly exposing children to harmful and inappropriate content. We share in the growing expert concern about the experiences children and young people risk being exposed to online, and the consequences of these experiences on their wellbeing and healthy
We also hold significant concerns for those responsible for the welfare of children, particularly (although not only) parents, as they are attempting to maintain their childrens’ online safety while helping them to navigate life in a digital world.
More broadly we are concerned with the threat to adults, especially women, from cyber bullying, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and the pervasive presence of pornography that presents a distorted view of women and feeds toxic masculinity through what Dr Michael Flood has aptly described as “rape training”.
Collective Shout has contributed a submission to the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Bill 2018.
The drafted federal Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in June 2018, which shortly follows NSW’s Modern Slavery Bill being passed through the NSW Legislative Council in the same month.
Collective Shout acknowledges the government’s efforts to consult organisations and individuals to improve their understanding of modern slavery. However, we join other voices in recognising that there are serious deficits in the drafted Bill.
The proposed Modern Slavery Bill does not adequately comprehend this reality of modern slavery as a commercial activity centred on the global sex industry and its entrepreneurs in Australia. The failure of the Bill’s provisions to mention commercial sexual exploitation as a recognised hot-spot of modern slavery, and to enact special provision against Australian businesses that promote, participate in, or oversee activities relating to the sex industry, renders it legally ineffective against a major form of human servitude, and, in fact, the form of servitude that arguably establishes a blueprint for all other forms of slavery.Read more
A 22 year old man who was caught with child pornography involving babies, coerced a teenage girl into sending him nude photos before publically humiliating her by posting them to Instagram. At the age of just 20, Alastair Wayne Anning was found with about 10,000 photos and videos of child exploitation which he downloaded using an app he thought was untraceable. Judge Devereaux sentenced him to 18 months imprisonment, suspended after three months.
A Mackay man caught with more than 1000 “disturbing” child pornography images and videos secretly filmed his 15 year old stepdaughter showering with a friend and using the toilet. Judge Dick handed down an 18 month sentence but the man will serve just 5 months in prison before that term is suspended for 2 years.
A paramedic has been charged with possession of “disturbing, repulsive” child pornography images and movies. Police located 13 movies in total and 4426 images – the majority classified as one of the most grossly offensive type of child exploitation material including acts of penetration and sadism. Judge Burnett ordered Parsons to a sentence of 15 months jail, suspended after 2 months.
These are just a few examples of people charged with possession of child exploitation material in the last month. The sentences are very similar, and lenient, across the board.
In early 2017, Collective Shout launched a campaign to hold people who access child exploitation material more accountable for their actions. This accountability also needs to be directed towards internet service providers and their obligation to better monitor what their users are accessing.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to write a submission for the inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Crimes Against Children and Community Protection Measures) Bill 2017. In our submission we agreed wholeheartedly that sentences for accessing child exploitation material needed to be increased. The above examples give you a general cross section of the types of sentences being handed down.
In addition to harsher sentencing, we also called on government to introduce legislation to increase liability for carriers (internet service providers) to more closely monitor and report on people accessing child exploitation material. Some fantastic recommendations came out of the inquiry, including increasing penalties for ISP’s for failing to pass on information, having a more formal reporting process, and allowing the Australian Federal Police to access service users personal details. Unfortunately, due to privacy laws surrounding service provider/service user relationships, ISP’s are not obligated to pass on client information.
The amendments to the Crimes Legislation Bill have already been debated twice in Parliament in 2017 and are scheduled to be debated again early 2018. At this stage, there has been no debate about the responsibilities of ISP’s, just debate around increasing sentencing penalties.
The United Kingdom has introduced “opt in” rules for people wishing to access the internet. If a service user wants to access 18+ content, they have to let their ISP know and provide their credit card details and proof of age. This allows police and ISP’s to better track people who are accessing child exploitation material. In Australia, you have to “opt out” of seeing this content or use internet filters. The UK model is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction to continue to crack down on people accessing and sharing child exploitation material.
Collective Shout will continue to lobby MP’s and work with other organisations to make sure ISP’s obligations are at the forefront of any bill amendments. Thank you so much for your support during 2017! We could not have achieved what we have without your help.
On 2 December 2015, the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement initiated an inquiry into human trafficking.
This inquiry lapsed at the end of the 44th Parliament.
On 12 October the committee re-initiated this inquiry in the 45th Parliament.
All correspondence and evidence previously received for this inquiry has been made available to the new committee. This means that submissions already provided to the committee about this issue do not need to be re-submitted.
The committee intends to refer to the evidence received during the 44th Parliament, in addition to any new evidence received.Read more