SUMMARY OFFENCES (FILMING AND SEXTING OFFENCES) AMENDMENT BILL

Tuesday 17 May, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (12:24): I also rise today to speak in support of the Summary Offences (Filming and Sexting Offences) Amendment Bill 2016. Technology has obviously changed and continues to change. With that change in technology, we as legislators always need to be on the front foot to ensure that we are able to set the necessary boundaries for our community, for the conduct of those in our area.

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (12:24): I also rise today to speak in support of the Summary Offences (Filming and Sexting Offences) Amendment Bill 2016. Technology has obviously changed and continues to change. With that change in technology, we as legislators always need to be on the front foot to ensure that we are able to set the necessary boundaries for our community, for the conduct of those in our area.

The mischief which this bill is seeking to prevent and avoid is clear, namely, the distribution of intimate and pornographic images of another person without their consent. I believe that the bill adequately cracks down on revenge porn and the distribution of such images. The new laws target people who not only distribute or seek to distribute the explicit images, but also those who threaten to distribute an invasive image. Sometimes, the threat is more potent than actually carrying out the conduct, so I am glad that the Attorney and his department have sought that coverage in the bill.

As the member for Schubert alluded to, with technology emerging as rapidly as it is, and with so many young people having access to a phone with colour images, the sending of this type of image has become much easier to do. So, it is essential that laws are updated to keep in touch with the technology as it changes. There has been an offence set up under the bill for sending a picture depicting a person 17 years or under which would now carry a maximum penalty of $20,000 or four years' imprisonment. I believe the bill will also give those who have authority to prosecute much greater flexibility, and many more offences will be available for prosecution to reflect the changing nature of the prospective offending.

I note that there has been public consultation sought on the bill and there has been support across the board. It is dangerous to assume that some young offenders who deal with such explicit material are simply naive or misguided, because sometimes they go far beyond that, and there are some who are out there to inflict damage through the distribution of these images.

The types of images that will be captured by this bill can all too often be used as a means of not only harassment but also bullying and revenge. Too often we see cases where young people are actually being bullied through this type of mechanism. In some instances, suicides have been caused because young people feel so depressed by the bullying. Unfortunately, this type of behaviour has been caused by revenge porn and sexting, so it is important that we legislate against this type of behaviour.

We all know that once an image hits cyberspace and is in the internet history it is there forever, and we are certainly sending a clear message to young people that they need to understand this. I am sure that the legislation by itself will not necessarily solve this very difficult and complex issue. I think this proposed bill has a significant role to set the boundaries that society will tolerate, and to send a clear message as to the appropriate code of conduct in this regard.

I have noticed that when you look at other jurisdictions around the world, they have been quick off the mark to legislate against this type of behaviour, and so it is only fitting that South Australia now follow suit. I had a look at some statistics provided from an American study, a joint study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and CosmoGirl, which actually suggested that 20 per cent of teens aged 13 to 19, and 33 per cent of young adults aged 20 to 26, have shared nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves, either by text message or online posting.

The study has gone on to say that teen girls were slightly more likely to do this than the boys. In the study, 11 per cent of the young teen girls admitted to sending suggestive photos of themselves. This is a significant issue. Whilst we do not need to panic that it is as prevalent here in Australia, it is a significant issue. That is why we as legislators must do all we can to prevent this kind of behaviour and to set the relevant standards in place.

The bill refines, and also updates, the offences in part A of the Summary Offences Act of 1953, and those offences pertain to filming in response to sexting. Apart from that, the bill also amends section 26C of the Summary Offences Act, so that the offence in that section of distributing an invasive image will actually apply to images where the party depicted is under the age of 17. As I said, under the bill, the distribution of an invasive image of a minor will be a very serious criminal offence, and it will attract a fine of up to $20,000 or imprisonment of four years.

I think there is wide scope there given to a court to award a penalty, if it sees fit, that is in line with the offence. We all know that these types of images can cause significant damage to one's credibility. Whilst there are other means available to a victim, often that damage is done. I think that penalty is fitting of the crimes committed. I seek to support the bill. As I said, the technology in this area has moved quite rapidly. I welcome the government's response to the change in technology, and I think this bill certainly adequately sets the appropriate boundaries for behaviour in place. I commend it to the house.