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How to report abuse or content to eSafety

No one should have to deal with serious online abuse or exposure to illegal and restricted online content on their own. eSafety is here to support you.

On this page:

Stay safe

If you are in Australia and in immediate danger or at risk of harm call the police on Triple Zero (000). Staying safe is your number one priority. Learn more and get support.

How eSafety can help

Serious online abuse

If you experience cyberbullying targeting a child or young person under 18, adult cyber abuse or image-based abuse (the sharing of intimate images or videos without the consent of the person shown), the online or electronic service or platform has a responsibility to help you. But sometimes that’s not enough.

In the most serious cases, when the service or platform does not help, eSafety can direct them to remove harmful content that has been sent to an Australian, or posted or shared about them.

Sometimes, we may be able to fine or take legal action against a service or platform that refuses to remove harmful content, or the person who sent, posted or shared it. 

When we receive a report about serious online abuse, our investigators can also help you to protect yourself, deal with the experience, and find counselling and support.

For eSafety to investigate, your report must meet a legal ‘threshold’. This means it must be serious enough to be covered by the scope of the Online Safety Act, which is the law that gives eSafety the power to direct online services to remove content.

Find out more about the definitions and thresholds for investigation.

Illegal and restricted online content

eSafety can direct illegal online content such as child sexual abuse material and terrorist material to be removed.

In certain circumstances, we can also direct an online or electronic service or platform to either remove or ensure that access is restricted to online content that is inappropriate for children and young people under 18.

What to do

Follow these steps to deal with serious online abuse or illegal and restricted content.

  1. Collect evidence

    To make a report to an online service or platform, or to eSafety or the police, you will need to collect evidence of what has happened and where. This can include noting information like the web page address (URL) and the other person’s user profile. In some cases, taking screenshots may be appropriate (but not if it’s illegal content).

    Find out more about how to collect evidence.

  2. Report harmful content

    For eSafety to investigate cyberbullying of a child or young person under 18, or adult cyber abuse, the harmful content must have first been reported to the service or platform used to send, post or share it - at least 48 hours before it is reported to eSafety. This is often the fastest way to have the content removed. The eSafety Guide explains how to report complaint to common services and platforms, including social media, online games and other apps. 

    If the cyberbullying or adult cyber abuse is very serious, and the service or platform does not remove the harmful content within 48 hours, then you can report it to eSafety for investigation.

    You can report complaints about image-based abuse or illegal and restricted online content to eSafety immediately.

    Report now

  3. Prevent further contact

    For cyberbullying of a child or young person under 18 and adult cyber abuse, you can use in-app functions to ignore, mute or block the other person and update your privacy settings. The eSafety Guide has advice on key online safety functions for many services and platforms, including social media, online games and other apps.

    For image-based abuse, stop all contact with the other person. You can use in-app functions to ignore or mute them, but don't block them until you are advised to do so by eSafety or the police.

    For illegal and restricted online content, stop searching for that type of material so it does not appear in your feeds. You can also use optional filtering or parental control products and check your privacy settings to prevent further exposure. 

  4. Get more help

    Experiencing or helping someone who has experienced serious online abuse, or coming across harmful material online, can be very disturbing.

    You may find it helpful to use the strategies we recommend for managing the impacts of cyberbullying of children, adult cyber abuse or image-based abuse or being exposed to illegal and restricted online content.

    You can also find counselling and support that is right for you.

Filling out a report form

To report serious online abuse or illegal and restricted online content you need to fill out one of our online forms. We take complaints this way to make sure we have the most important information about your case right from the start. This helps us to assess your complaint quickly and decide if we can investigate it or help you in any other way.

When you click or tap on a red Report Now button you will be taken to a page where you can select a form for the type of complaint you want to make. If you are unsure which one to choose, you can tap or click on the option 'I need help selecting the right form' and follow a few easy steps to get to the best one. 

For cyberbullying and adult cyber abuse complaints we need you to fill out your name and contact details – we can only have harmful content removed is we know who it targets. 

Image-based abuse complaints can be made anonymously, but if you choose not to include contact details on the report form we won’t be able to ask further questions or let you know the outcome of your complaint. One way to report to us without giving us your name is to set up an email account which does not use your name (for example: somethingelse@email.com).

For complaints about illegal and restricted online content, if you wish to be notified about the outcome you will need to include your contact details. Alternatively, you may make an anonymous report.

For more information, see Can I make an anonymous complaint?

I need support in my own language 

For information in another language, call 131 450 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call. The Translating and Interpreting Service can also call us on your behalf.

I need support for hearing or speech impairment

If you are hearing or speech impaired, please visit the National Relay Service or call 133 677 for TTY and voice calls (for the cost of a local call).

What happens next

For a complaint about child cyberbullying, adult cyber abuse or image-based abuse, you can expect to hear from us within two business days – but in many cases we will contact you sooner.

We aim to remove child sexual abuse material within two business days. We investigate complaints of illegal and restricted online content as quickly as possible, but child sexual exploitation material is usually our priority.

When we have completed our assessment of your complaint, we will notify you of our approach using the email address you supplied. We will also notify you if we decide not to investigate your report.

Possible outcomes of an investigation

Cyberbullying: Removal of harmful content, issuing a notice requiring the person responsible to refrain from further cyberbullying and/or apologise, issuing fines or penalties for services or platforms that don’t remove content, further legal action.

Adult cyber abuse: Removal of harmful content, fines or penalties for services or platforms that don’t remove content, fines or penalties for the person responsible if they don’t remove the content, further legal action.

Image-based abuse: Removal of intimate images and videos, fines, penalties or other regulatory action against the person responsible.

Illegal and restricted content: Removal of illegal content, removal or restriction of access to content that is inappropriate for children, referral of content to law enforcement agencies for further investigation.

What you can report and the steps to follow