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

COVID-19 Alert

Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) it may take longer than usual to address all reports or enquiries made with our investigation teams.

Please continue to submit reports and we will review them as soon as possible.

If you are worried about your safety or are at risk of harm right now contact police immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

If you need someone to talk to and are under 25, contact Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
For all other ages, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

FAQ about making a report

Learn more about making a report to the Cyber Report team at eSafety.

The Cyber Report team at eSafety investigates offensive and illegal content online. We work with our law enforcement partners to take down child sexual exploitation material and other forms of illegal content. Learn more about the actions we can take.

Yes. You do not need to identify yourself when you report offensive or illegal content to us.

We ask you to declare whether you are an Australian resident when you make a report.

If you are unable to access the Cyber Report online report form or you are encountering problems using the form, you can contact us.

For a report to be valid, you will need to:

  • declare that you are an Australian resident
  • show why you believe the content is offensive or illegal
  • the location of where you found the content (such as the web address, or URL, of the page)

Please note that we can only investigate reports about prohibited online content. Learn more about what we can investigate.

See what we can’t investigate for further information about getting help with issues such as cyberbullying, defamation and online scams.

Online content investigated by Cyber Report includes content accessed over the internet including:

  • content accessible via a web browser
  • postings on news groups and bulletin boards
  • files that can be downloaded via peer-to-peer software
  • audio/visual material that is streamed live over the Internet

We do not investigate the content contained in personal communications such as emails, instant messages, SMS, MMS, or voice calls except in very limited circumstances.

Reports about online content are investigated under the provisions (collectively known as the Online Content Scheme) found in Schedules 5 and 7 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth).

Among other things, the Online Content Scheme addresses community concerns about offensive and illegal content found online. The Scheme also creates a co-regulatory arrangement between industry and government to ensure that content hosts and service providers respect community standards where the hosting of online material in Australia is concerned.

We also assess content against the Abhorrent Violent Material (AVM) regime under the Criminal Code Act 1995. 

The Act defines AVM as audio, visual or audio-visual material created by a perpetrator or an accomplice that records or streams: 

  • a terrorist act leading to serious injury or death
  • murder or attempted murder
  • torture 
  • rape
  • kidnapping involving violence or the threat of violence. 

The eSafety Commissioner may issue an AVM notice to a website or its hosting service if they are providing access to AVM. Such a notice does not require take down, however failure by a website or hosting service to remove access to the material may constitute a criminal offence.
 

No.

Where content has not been classified, you may be able to apply to the Classification Board for classification. Please contact the Classification Board for more information.

For information about the legality of a proposed online content service, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice.

No.

Examples of the kind of content Cyber Report investigates include webpages, content streams, embedded videos, image galleries, and files shared over peer-to-peer networks. For more information see what we can investigate.

Cyber Report notifies offensive and illegal content URLs to providers of optional filtering or parental-control products that have been accredited by industry under the Family Friendly Filter program.

This list of URLs is used by the vendors of accredited filter products to refine the functionality of the software, use of which is entirely voluntary by end users.

eSafety does not operate a ‘blacklist’ of banned sites.

The eSafety Commissioner does have the power to give written directions to a carrier or a service provider in connection with any of the Commissioner’s functions and powers.

Following the Christchurch attack, the Commissioner gave a direction in connection with her function of promoting online safety for Australians by protecting them from access or exposure to material that promotes, incites, or instructs in, terrorist acts or violent crimes. The direction required Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to temporarily block websites providing access to the perpetrator’s video and manifesto. These websites were placed in the List of Websites Hosting Terrorist or Violent Criminal Material (No. 1). This list was reviewed weekly and websites that were no longer providing access to the material were removed. The list was available to members of the public on request. The direction and list are no longer in effect.

Since then, the Commissioner has developed a protocol with the Communications Alliance — an organisation representing Australia’s communications sector — to set out how a similar direction to ISPs would work in an ‘online crisis event’. 

Child sexual abuse material consists of images and videos showing the sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of children. The content can range from children posing in sexually suggestive ways through to ‘contact’ offences involving sexual assault.

We do not use the term ‘child pornography’ to describe this content.

Pornography is a form of media entertainment produced by consenting adults for the purpose of producing sexual arousal in viewers. As noted by Interpol, ‘Child abuse images involve children who cannot and would not consent and who are victims of a crime.’

Describing such content as ‘pornography’ trivialises the impact of sexual abuse and exploitation on children and obscures the fact that they are victims of serious crime.

The trade in child sexual abuse material online is global, lucrative, and abhorrent. Every time an image or video of a child being abused is shared or distributed, demand is fostered for new and more extreme material. By assisting with the removal of this content, we help undermine this dark economy.

But even more importantly, we do this work because victims matter. Survivors are haunted by the knowledge that material depicting their abuse remains in circulation. Every image removed therefore helps reduce the risk of revictimisation and can help survivors take control of their recovery.

No.

Cyber Report strongly discourages the public from actively searching for prohibited material and other illegal online content, even if such actions are intended in good faith.

Accessing or distributing illegal material such as child sexual abuse imagery are crimes in Australia. By deliberately seeking out such material for the purpose of reporting it to eSafety, a person may expose themselves to a risk of criminal prosecution by police.

If you do inadvertently access online material that you believe is illegal, please report it to us by using our online report form. Reports may be made anonymously.

If you believe a child or other person is in danger, contact the police by calling Triple Zero (000).

Reports can be made in confidence to Crime Stoppers by calling the toll-free number 1800 333 000.

Online child sexual abuse material and instruction in paedophile activity can be reported to the Cyber Report team at eSafety via our online report form.

What I saw online is having a bad effect on me, who can I talk to?

Kids Helpline

5 to 25 year olds. All issues. Confidential phone counselling available all day, every day. Online chat available 8am to 12am EST daily.

Lifeline

All ages. All issues. Phone counselling available all day, every day. Online chat available 7pm to 4am AEST daily.

Support services