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Transcript of interview with Tom Tilley: Triple J Hack: 31 October 2016: technology facilitated abuse; revenge porn; COAG Domestic Violence Summit

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31 October 2016


SUBJECT/S: Technology facilitated abuse, revenge porn, COAG Domestic Violence Summit.

TOM TILLEY: Michaelia Cash is the Minister for Women, Minister, thanks so much for joining us.

MINISTER CASH: Fantastic to be with you and thanks for having me on the show.

TOM TILLEY: My absolute pleasure. How concerned are you about technology’s being used to harass and abuse partners?

MINISTER CASH: I am very concerned. One of the issues we face is that technology facilitated abuse is on the rise in Australia.

Everybody has technology, everybody has a phone they use and a computer. I will give you a fascinating statistic, Australian teenagers spend on average 33 hours per week in an online environment and that is outside of school. We have this massive exposure to technology which is a good thing, but at the same time, perpetrators as we know are more likely to use technology as a tool by which they can harass, intimidate or track their victims.

TOM TILLEY: It’s something you guys have outlined as a Government, as something you want to focus on when you announced $100 million dollars of spending last year, there was $12 million in there to spend on technological abuse and trying to stop it. The Labor party have accused you of actually doing very little with that money in the last year, and spending less than 2% of it, is that true?

MINISTER CASH: No its not and I’m always disappointed when people don’t represent the facts.

The first thing we did as a Government was put the issue of technology facilitated abuse on the COAG agenda - that's all the States and Territories talking about how they can work together in relation to technological abuse.

We have also established as you know and your story from Shalailah referred to it, the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. This is about protecting Australia’s children from cyberbullying.

We knew however that we needed to do more, so in December last year, 2015, we expanded the office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to include online safety for women at risk of domestic violence.

Last Friday we had the COAG summit and two of the round tables that were participated in were about what we can do in relation to technology facilitated abuse. We also dedicated around $8 million dollars to further respond to these issues.

TOM TILLEY: Okay, what is in place now to help people avoid this kind of technological abuse?

MINISTER CASH: In the first instance it's about the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, and the fact that its role has now been expanded, so you can now go to the eSafety Commissioner in terms of women who are at risk of domestic violence.

You also mentioned in your lead up to the interview, a really important step by Telstra, and that was committing 20,000 smart phones over three years to be provided to WESNET, because as we know once that phone is infected, you need to get rid of that phone. With Telstra you can go in and swap your phone over and we can ensure that as a victim or a potential victim, you have a completely clean phone.

TOM TILLEY: So is that working? Have people actually going in and got them? How many?

MINISTER CASH: Yes they have! I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head how many but I have spoken to a number of women who when they found out they could get a new phone, that is exactly what they did. It has given them that real sense of security, knowing that they can make those calls, they can go online, they can send a text to a friend and their partner or the perpetrator is no longer able to track them or send them abusive texts et cetera. It is a massive step forward in assisting women.

TOM TILLEY: Okay. Just finally, we talked about the revenge porn laws in that story and we heard Malcolm Turnbull say he’d love to see a national approach, we see specific laws in just two states at the moment, is there any movement in that space in anything going to change?

MINISTER CASH: There is and that is one of the things we talked about on Friday at the COAG conference. Responsibility for investigating revenge porn as it is known rests principally with State and Territory police.

In terms of the federal police there are specific offences that they can action but it is more so within the ambit of State and Territory police.

We are working with the States and Territories in relation to what more the States and Territories can do, who haven’t already got specific laws which deal with revenge porn, to see what they can implement.

It was really positive on Friday from the First Ministers and the Women’s Ministers, there is a growing awareness that more does need to be done by the States and Territories and I think we will see more movement in that regard.

TOM TILLEY: Michaelia, great to have you on the show, thanks for joining us.

MINISTER CASH: Sensational to be with you. Thanks for having me.

TOM TILLEY: That’s Michaelia Cash, the Minister for Women.


Media contacts: Office of Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash: David De Garis 0427 019 692; Brooke Vitnell 0447 743 835.