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New research exposes dating app abuse

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

Cabinet Secretary
The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP

Minister for Communications
The Hon Michelle Rowland MP

Joint media release

A report from the Australian Institute of Criminology has today revealed unacceptably high rates of sexual harassment and abuse of Australians who use dating apps and websites.

The report, titled Sexual harassment, aggression and violence victimisation among mobile dating app and website users in Australia, found 72 per cent of survey respondents have experienced dating app facilitated sexual violence, including sexual harassment, abusive or threatening language, image-based abuse and stalking.

Sexual harassment and sexual abuse is never acceptable –– online or offline.

Sexual harassment was the most common form of behaviour reported with two thirds of mobile dating app and website users having experienced online sexual harassment.

The Government expects dating platforms to keep their users safe through accessible and responsive reporting mechanisms, support for victims of abuse, processes and policies that hold perpetrators accountable, and incorporating safety by design processes.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner has powers to act on online harms such as image-based abuse and adult cyber abuse under the Online Safety Act 2021. The eSafety Commissioner is also able to require dating platforms to report on what they are doing to keep their users safe through the Basic Online Safety Expectations.

Anyone that has experienced any form of online abuse is encouraged to report it directly to the dating app. If they fail to act, you can lodge a report with the eSafety Commissioner.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP

“This research from the Australian Institute of Criminology is extremely concerning and completely unacceptable.
Every Australian deserves to live free from harassment and abuse online. I expect dating apps to do everything they can to keep their users safe, such as providing easy to use reporting processes.
The first place to go if you are in immediate danger or being threatened by someone on a dating app is the police.
Australians who experience abuse on dating apps should report it to the dating app, and if they fail to act reports can be lodged with the eSafety Commissioner.”

Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP

“I thank the Australian Institute of Criminology for this important report, which lays out the extent of dating app-facilitated sexual abuse and violence in Australia for the first time.
It is clear perpetrators are exploiting loopholes to abuse people through dating apps.
I want to be clear – behaviour such as this has no place in Australia, whether online or offline.
‘User beware’ is not a good enough safety approach from dating apps. We need to see developers adopt safety by design principles, so platforms are preventing harm in the first place.
We are committed to stamping out sexual harassment and sexual violence. The Standing Council of Attorneys-General is working on a collective national approach to strengthen criminal justice responses to sexual assault.”