State Member for Wallsend, Ms Sonia Hornery MP, will today move a Notice of Motion in the NSW Parliament calling on the Attorney General to work with social media platforms to develop stronger reporting mechanisms for online abuse and harassment.
A recent report by Plan International surveyed 14,000 young women aged 15 to 25 from 22 countries, including 1000 from Australia. The report showed that in Australia 65 per cent of girls and young women surveyed had been exposed to online harassment, compared to the global figure of 58 per cent, with abusive language, body shaming, stalking and purposeful harassment the most prevalent forms.
Following a rise in the number of people reporting online abuse to her office, in particular young women, Ms Hornery will ask the Attorney General to work on the important issue.
“There has always been an element of online abuse, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shown the best and worst of social media,” said Ms Hornery.
“There is no doubt being online has helped us remain connected with family and friends during times of restrictions, but the levels of online abuse and harassment has increased dramatically.
“This report shows that 35 per cent of the Australian women and girls surveyed had reported their harasser to the social media platform but no action had been taken.
“I have certainly noticed a sharp rise in the number of people contacting me as a result of being abused or harassed online, in particular girls and young women.
“I have experienced it myself and have made numerous reports to social media platforms and NSW Police.
“We have laws in place to deal with things like revenge porn and threats against someone’s life, but there are no specific laws that deal with offences like cyberbullying.
“There are mechanisms on every platform to report abuse and harassment and indeed many of these social media giants have made vast improvements recently, but the reality is that abuse is widespread.
‘‘The system is broken and something needs to change. I am happy to sit down with the Attorney General to work through this ongoing and increasing issue,” said Ms Hornery.