The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is a statutory office created by the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015.
The Commissioner has a wide range of functions and powers to enhance online safety for Australian children. Importantly, the Act provides a new safety net for Australian children who have been a victim of cyberbullying and are not satisfied with how a social media service has dealt with their complaint.
Under the Act, the Commissioner has the power to investigate complaints about serious cyberbullying material targeted at an Australian child. The Act establishes a two-tiered scheme for the removal of cyberbullying material from participating social media services.The two Tiers of the scheme are subject to different levels of regulatory oversight:
In addition, the Commissioner has powers to issue notices to the individuals who post cyberbullying material and request them to take it down, refrain from posting further cyberbullying material or apologise to the child who is the target.
Other functions include promoting and co-ordinating activities relating to online safety for children in Australia and conducting research.
The Commissioner also administers the Online Content Scheme under Schedule 5 and Schedule 7 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. Under this Scheme, the Office may investigate valid complaints about online content, and take action on material found to be prohibited or potentially prohibited. The categories of content captured under this scheme are outlined on our Types of offensive or illegal content page. The Scheme is underpinned by the National Classification Scheme that also applies to films, computer games and publications.
The Online Content Scheme provides an important community safeguard, as well as dovetailing with the role of law enforcement and the international community of Internet Hotlines – INHOPE – set up to combat online child sexual abuse.
While there are no laws which specifically deal with cyberbullying as a criminal offence in Australia, there are a number of more general criminal laws which could apply to instances of cyberbullying. Brodie’s Law in Victoria has also recently widened the scope of their stalking provisions to include behaviour that includes serious cyberbullying.Below is a list of Federal, State and Territory legislation that could be used to prosecute cyberbullying as a criminal offence in Australia:
|Provision||Description of offence|
|Section 13 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence Act) 2007||Stalking or intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm|
|Section 31 of Crimes Act 1900||Sending or delivering a document containing threats to kill or inflict bodily harm|
|Section 60E of Crimes Act 1900||Assaulting, stalking, harassing or intimidating school students while attending a school|
|Section 61 of Crimes Act 1900||Common assault|
Lawstuff provides legal information to children and young people in Australia. Please click on your state or territory below to get legal information related to cyberbullying in your area.