Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium recommendations

The first national Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium (18-19 July 2013) has recommended the nation adopt a four-tier approach to addressing bullying, including cyber bullying.

The symposium, attended by preeminent legal, law enforcement and educational experts from throughout Australia and New Zealand, recommended that the approach involve:

a) Education

b) Appropriate responses by organisations to incidences of bullying and cyber bullying

c) The establishment of a national digital communication tribunal, and

d) An appropriate legal framework to address bullying and cyber bullying

The symposium recommended:

  • All governments to consider the introduction of a specific, and readily understandable, criminal offence of bullying, including cyberbullying, involving a comparatively minor penalty to supplement existing laws which are designed to deal with more serious forms of conduct. In developing the above approaches, it is necessary to take into account:

i. the voices of children and human rights

ii. summary offences that do not require proof of specific intent to cause harm 

iii. appropriate penalties that in the case of children do not include incarceration

  • The Federal Government to establish a national digital communication tribunal with the power to act, speedily and in an informal manner, to direct the immediate removal of offensive material from the internet.
  • The adoption of the recommendation of the Victorian Law Reform Committee Report on Sexting in all states and territories.
  • The Federal Government be requested to support the convening of a young people and the law symposium in two years.

The symposium was a joint initiative between The Alannah and Madeline Foundation's National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB), the Australian Federal Police and the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre, part of the Victoria University.

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