Online bullying can be very hurtful and cause damage to people’s reputations and impact their health. If a person is being bullied online (cyberbullied), there are steps that can be taken to get the bullying to stop and to remove damaging material.

What is the Harmful Digital Communications Act?

The Act aims to prevent, lessen and deter any repeated or serious harmful digital communications, harassment and cyberbullying. It covers harmful digital communication including texts, emails, photos, recordings, and social media content.

What can I do?

If a person is suffering from cyberbullying, one of their first options is to lodge a complaint with NetSafe. NetSafe is an approved organisation that helps solve complaints. They can work with website hosts and request them to take down or moderate offensive posts and assist in the resolution of complaints through negotiation and mediation.

Who can apply for help?

The victim of the cyberbullying may apply, the parent or guardian of that individual, or the Police (if a communication is more serious or threatens a person’s safety). A professional leader of a registered school or delegate may also apply, but consent is necessary if they are applying on behalf of a child or student.

What if Netsafe cannot help me?

If NetSafe is unable to resolve a complaint, or their solution is not suitable for the victim, the victim may apply to the District Court. Applications to the District Court can only occur after an investigation is completed by NetSafe, and a NetSafe summary is issued.

What can the Court do?

The District Court will consider if there has been a serious breach, threatened breach or a repeated breach of the law’s communication principles. The Court has the discretion to make a wide range of orders including:

  • Stopping the person from encouraging others to bully you;
  • Ordering the person to post a correction or apology;
  • Ordering the person or the online host to take down harmful content; or
  • Ordering the online host or person to publish a correction or response from the victim.

What if the offending person doesn’t comply with the order?

If an order is made, but not complied with, then the bully may be liable for a term of imprisonment up to six months, or a fine of up to $5,000. Further criminal penalties may also be ordered in more serious circumstances.

If you or someone you know has concerns about cyberbullying, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area about the options that are available to you.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of digital communication or technologies to bully a person such a texts, emails, photos, recordings and other social media content. This typically involves sending negative and harmful communications that are used to threaten, intimidate, shame or humiliate another person.


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