Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Get help from the police

If you have experienced serious online abuse, your local police may be able to help.

How can the police help?

If you are feeling unsafe or frightened, or threats have been made to harm you, your friends or family, it is a good idea to contact the police.

How they can help depends on the nature of the abuse and the laws that apply in your state or territory. 

Laws are different in each state and territory and can be complex. Your local police can help you work out whether there are laws that may apply in your case.

The following laws may be relevant

  • Stalking
  • Blackmail
  • Unlawful uses of technology
  • Use of a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence
  • Use of a carriage service to make threats to kill or cause serious harm to a person

Find out more about the laws relating to online abuse.

Even if there are no specific laws the police can use for your case, you can ask them to record your complaint in a report. This means that if the abuse continues or gets worse, there is a history of your concerns. 

For the police to determine whether a crime has been committed or if they are able to begin a criminal investigation, evidence is usually required. 

Whether or not they can take action will depend on factors like the severity of the abuse, how long it has been going on, whether there is enough evidence to prove who is carrying out the abuse, and where that person is located. 

If the police decide they have enough information to begin a criminal investigation and the matter is heard in court, the court will need to be convinced ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that the alleged offender was responsible for the crime committed. This can be quite hard but it has been done. Whether a matter is successful will depend on the individual case and the strength of the evidence.

Stay safe

If you are experiencing online abuse as part of an abusive or violent relationship, staying safe is your number one priority. Your local police are there to help. If you are feeling unsafe now, call Triple Zero (000).

Preparing to go to the police

The police might ask you to make a statement summarising your situation and outlining any evidence you have.

To prepare yourself for this, it would be helpful to gather evidence such as screenshots, relevant emails and web addresses, and put together as much information as you can to show what has been happening to you. Read our advice on collecting evidence.

Get legal help

You may wish to take a lawyer with you when you meet with the police. Get legal help.

Contacting the police

You can call the police or visit your local police station to report serious online abuse. It is a good idea to take a supportive friend or family member along when you meet with the police. They can help by taking notes that you can read over later. 

Make sure you write down the police report or event number, and the name and rank of the officer you speak with, in case you need it later. 

There may be a specialist police officer you can talk to

  • If your situation involves family or domestic violence you can ask to speak to a specialist Domestic Violence Officer.
  • If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ+) you can ask to speak with a Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer.
  • If you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you can ask to speak to an Aboriginal Liaison Officer.
  • If you are from an ethnic or multicultural community you can ask to speak with either an Ethnic Community Liaison Officer or a Multicultural Community Liaison Officer.

For non-emergencies, you can call the Police Assistance Line
on 131 444 or find your local police station:

Get help and support

Find a support or counselling service that is right for you.


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