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Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee
Revenge porn

BROWN, Ms Sophie, Law Reform Committee Member, Victorian Women Lawyers

JOHNSTONE, Ms Amy, Law Reform Committee Co-chair, Victorian Women Lawyers

LOUGHMAN, Ms Janet, Principal Solicitor, Women's Legal Services NSW

MILIONE, Ms Stephanie, Convenor, Victorian Women Lawyers

SNELL, Ms Elizabeth, Law Reform and Policy Coordinator, Women's Legal Services NSW

Evidence from Ms Brown, Ms Johnstone and Ms Milione was taken via teleconference

CHAIR: I now welcome representatives from Women's Legal Services of New South Wales, and from Victorian Women Lawyers via teleconference. The committee has received your submissions as submissions 2 and 13 respectively. Thank you for coming and talking with us today. Before we commence, does either organisation wish to make any additions or amendments to their submissions?

Ms Milione : No, we do not have any changes.

Ms Loughman : We do have one small change, but we are going to cover it in our opening statement.

CHAIR: Make a brief opening statement, then we will come to you with some questions.

Ms Snell : We thank the committee for the opportunity to appear today. Women's Legal Services New South Wales is a community legal centre that aims to achieve access to justice and a just legal system for women. Amongst our specialist areas, we provide specialist legal services relating to domestic and family violence and sexual assault.

Over the past few years, we have seen a significant increase in technology facilitated stalking and abuse—that is, the use of technology, such as the internet, social media, mobile phones, computers and surveillance devices to stalk and perpetrate abuse on a person. In particular, we are seeing a concerning trend of technology being regularly used against women by perpetrators as a tactic within a wider context of domestic violence, including the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images. While in our experience the impact of such behaviour is often minimised, including by law enforcement, such behaviour can have a significant impact on women, including impacting on educational opportunity and employment.

We consider the term 'revenge porn' to be a misnomer. Firstly, the behaviour is not always motivated by revenge. Mary Anne Franks, a law professor in Miami, refers to multiple motives—for example, a desire to entertain, to make money or to achieve notoriety. Other motives include to cause harm, to humiliate, to punish, to coerce, to control, to gain social status or for sexual gratification. Secondly, describing private intimate images as pornography may be considered offensive by the subject of the image. Such language focuses on the content of the images and not on the main issue, which is the absence of consent. Rather than victim-blaming, instead we should be focused on holding the person posting the images to account for their wrongful actions—that is, the unauthorised sharing of the intimate images. We therefore prefer the term 'nonconsensual sharing of intimate images'.

Ms Loughman : We welcome the committee's consideration of both criminal and civil remedies to address this issue. Criminal remedies play both an important educative and deterrence role and will send a key message to the community that such behaviour is not acceptable. It is important that there be remedies for both the actual sharing of intimate images without consent as well as the threat to do so. Based on the experience of our clients, both cause harm to women. Also, we would say that there should be no requirement of proof that an image actually exists when a threat to share is made, as the mere threat is sufficient to cause fear, anxiety, a sense of powerlessness and a feeling of being trapped in a relationship categorised by domestic violence.

In our submission to the committee we have been open to supporting in principle a harm element to an offence. But, on reflection, we now hold the view that absence of consent should be sufficient. We see consent as a core issue. It should be explicitly stated in legislation that consent to make the image of itself does not include consent to distribute an image. Separate consent is required for distribution. We agree with the New South Wales Director of Public Prosecutions submission that there be explicit and express consent for the sharing of that particular image at that particular time and the onus should be on the offender to prove such consent was given. We also see that state and territory legislation is also needed to address the issue of nonconsensual sharing of images beyond carriage service providers and postal services, such as person-to-person sharing of images or leaving an image at someone's doorstep, for example.

Legislation needs to be accompanied by training and support, particularly for domestic violence workers supporting victims or survivors of this violence, including in assisting with technology safety planning. We note in the UK they recently established a specialised support service for those who have experienced the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images. Through our work we have found that there can be an attitude amongst police that technology facilitated harassment is somehow less harmful than in-person behaviours or that proving the offender is responsible is too burdensome or expensive once technology is involved. Urgent training and resources are needed to counter this. In conclusion, we also say that other remedies are also required—for example, to ensure quick takedown remedies of intimate images that are shared without consent.

CHAIR: Thank you. Ms Johnson, do you have a statement?

Ms Milione : I am the convenor of Victorian Women Lawyers. We have a prepared statement.

CHAIR: Okay. Over to you.

Ms Milione : Victorian Women Lawyers, or VWL, is a voluntary association that promotes and protects the interests of women in the legal profession. Since forming in 1996, VWL has advocated for the equal representation of women and promoted the understanding and support of women's legal and human rights by identifying, highlighting and eradicating discrimination against women in law and in the legal system, and achieving justice and equality for all women. VWL believes revenge porn is a serious issue that constitutes a form of sexual assault and harassment which often, but not always, occurs in the context of a relationship breakdown. Our focus is on the behaviour of the perpetrator, namely the practice of distribution of private sexual material, and the absence of consent of the person represented in the material. We believe that this behaviour must be deterred by criminalising it. Therefore, we support the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code.

VWL advocates a wide formulation of the criminal offence which includes images that have been photoshopped, as well as threats to distribute private sexual material. A broad definition of sexual material is required to encapsulate different cultural notions of sexuality. We believe that a criminal remedy offers the best option for victims as opposed to civil law remedies that can be financially inaccessible to many victims. VWL views the harm and distress caused to the victim as being a mitigating factor that should be taken into account during sentencing of the perpetrator, rather than a hurdle to prove the offence has occurred.

As mentioned by a number of other submissions, VWL is in favour of a less incendiary title, such as 'non-consensual distribution of private sexual material', as 'revenge porn' has a number of connotations that can imply responsibility on the part of the victim.

Finally, we believe that any legislative framework should occur in a broader policy context.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. Would anyone else like to make a statement? No. Okay. Over to you, Senator Bilyk.

Senator BILYK: Ms Milione, can you just tell me again the alternate title that you would prefer to 'revenge porn'.

Ms Milione : Non-consensual distribution of private sexual material.

Senator BILYK: This is open to either those in the room or those on the phone hook-up. Do you think the current legal framework provides adequate protection for victims of this sort of behaviour?

Ms Snell : I think we would be of a view 'no'—and that is both from a Commonwealth perspective and also a New South Wales perspective. I appreciate that this is focusing on the Commonwealth. One of the reasons why we are recommending both a criminal offence in the Commonwealth jurisdiction but also mirrored legislation in New South Wales is: we understand that, from reading other submissions, the Constitution is an impediment in so far as it is only covers carriage service providers and postal services. If we had mirrored criminal legislation in states and territories that was broader than that, it would cover further afield than those offences.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: What is 'further afield'?

Ms Snell : For example, in Ms Loughman's opening statement she referred to: if an image was left at someone's door or passed from person to person, but not through an electronic device, those kinds of things are not necessarily covered, as we understand it, in the current Criminal Code.

CHAIR: Ms Milione, do you have a comment?

Ms Milione : Sophie Brown has a comment.

Ms Brown : We would echo those comments in regard to a framework which extended over all states and territories through the Commonwealth Criminal Code, rather than state by state. Also, we would say that the current carriage service provisions do not detail the types of materials that are particularly covered in this proposed bill. We commented earlier on the broader definition of private sexual material. The specificity in that, specifically how it relates to the types of behaviours and the subject of that material, we think is quite important.

In addition, we would refer to the potential for this legislation to address third-party involvement in this type of offence, particularly where a private or third party is hosting that material online. We consider that this proposed legislation would provide an opportunity, as mentioned by the other commenters, to extend takedown requirements where there is concern that these images are being shared without consent.

Senator BILYK: We heard from some other witnesses earlier today in regard to whether it matters whether there was the intent to cause harm. I was wondering if either of your organisations have comments to make in regard to that.

Ms Johnstone : Yes. We consider that intention is largely irrelevant for this offence. We have noted the submission of Dr Henry and her colleagues, which notes that perpetrators can have diverse motivations and intentions for distributing private sexual material. We consider that legislative reform like this can allow the community to make a clear statement about such behaviour being inappropriate and therefore a form of sexual assault, in which case the key issue should be consent. We consider that the behaviour of distributing sexual material without consent should be a key focus. In particular, that then takes away the onus on the victim to prove that they have established harm.

Ms Loughman : We also support that view.

Ms Snell : Yes.

Senator BILYK: Ms Snell, you mentioned before the different ways that this can happen and that it is not just all online. What are the limitations of civil remedies currently available to victims of revenge porn?

Ms Snell : I think the difficulty is that there are not very many remedies. Certainly we have been advocating for both a Commonwealth and a New South Wales statutory tort on serious invasion of privacy. That is something that is lacking. It would be beneficial if that could happen. We understand, as our colleagues in Victoria have raised, that there are also limitations on that in that it may not necessarily be accessible for all. So it is but one tool in a range of tools that could be used.

Senator BILYK: VWL, do you have anything to add to that?

Ms Brown : Yes. We would add that we feel that, as part of a broader approach under this legislation, there would be potential for factors such as respectful relationship training to be a part of the courts options at sentencing. That would be something that would really tie into what we would hope is the overarching aim of this legislation.

Senator BILYK: I will come back to the training and education area in a minute. I want to know if either group considers that if there were a federal law, with complementary legislation in states or whatever was required, that would help send a message to the community in general that this is unacceptable behaviour. It has in some ways to some people just become normal. We heard from the eSafety Commissioner this morning that young people tend to just take these photos. I am not trying to say that the victim is to blame here in any way, but they do not think through the consequences. We know that people are quite often coerced into this sort of behaviour as well and then it is out there as a bullying, intimidation or control technique. I am just wondering whether your organisations think that having a federal law would help send that message that this is unacceptable and have some sort of impact on perpetrators as well.

Ms Johnstone : We consider that making this behaviour criminal provides a clear statement of condemnation, but we are very careful to draw a clear distinction between people being able to consent to taking and providing private sexual material within the context that they choose as opposed to somebody then distributing that material. That is making sure that it is the further distribution without consent that is condemned.

Ms Milione : I would just like to add as well that making sure that people understand and shifting the focus away from the person who took the photo and their actions to focusing on the actions of the perpetrator. At this point in time, the community still seems to look at the victim's actions in actually taking the photo and tries to put responsibility on them. We think that this legislation would actually assist the community to understand that it is actually not the responsibility of the victim and that taking the photos is not an act that needs to be criticised.

Ms Brown : We have also seen that the courts have been very clear about how community standards have changed and are changing in regards to things such as sexual harassment. For example, the recent decision in the matter of Oracle. That was a landmark case in which very high damages for sexual harassment were awarded. Community sentiment was provided as one of the bases upon which that award was made, and how we no longer find it acceptable to make small awards. Whilst that was in a different context, it does refer to the changing community standards and that decision has since been picked up by other courts and tribunals.

Ms Snell : We would support those comments. We certainly see the benefit of a criminal remedy, being that it would act as a deterrence and send a very clear and powerful message that this behaviour is unacceptable. Equally, there would be an educative role to play. Certainly, as you indicated, there will be an opportunity to expand on that.

Senator BILYK: That was in my next group of questions. What do you think that we need to do? Do you think that police need to be more educated in this area? I look at it in the context—and I know it is not the only context—of domestic violence and those issues of control. I see how much we seem to, thankfully, have progressed in that area with police through education and training. We have got different laws to remove perpetrators and that sort of stuff. I am just wondering if any of groups had any comments that they wanted to make in regards to that sort of area—broadly, even.

Ms Loughman : In our experience, advocating for clients, it seems that the introduction of technology to the abuse introduces an impediment to police responding. For a variety of reasons, it is either not seen as as serious or as harmful. Because of the technology, it is more expensive to investigate and to prosecute. There are impediments such as that that we have found.

Senator BILYK: It can be just as harmful as physical violence or intimidation.

Ms Loughman : Yes. For many of our clients, they often do not know that there is material in existence; but a threat to distribute material—even material that may not exist—causes extreme anxiety about what the material is and the threat to distribute.

Senator BILYK: With your clients, do they generally know that they can go to the police or do they tend to come to you? Is it the other way round? Do the police refer people to you? How does that generally work?

Ms Loughman : We do not often get referrals from the police to us; we would be referring to the police. It is similar to women's experience of any domestic violence: there is a range of women's understanding of what they are experiencing, whether it is a domestic violence or not. We have certainly had clients from certain communities who feel a very heightened sense of shame about these threats, fear that the images are going to be shared with family or sent overseas to family, and fear of going to the police because of that shame and embarrassment about what the images may be, for example.

Senator BILYK: I tend to think, and I mentioned this earlier to some other witnesses, that people are still hesitant to report rape or things like that because they are worried that the victim will be seen as somehow to blame. Personally, I believe that is wrong and that we need to make sure we can get people educated enough to move on from there. In your experiences, how did the police generally deal with this sort of thing—with regard to the perpetrators and victims? I am not having a go at the police here, either! Do you think they are sensitive to victims' concerns and that sort of thing?

Ms Loughman : I think there is a variable response. We could say it is possible to get a good response and it is possible to get a bad response. As I have mentioned, the technology seems to provide that extra layer of complexity that the police find difficulty in responding to.

Ms Snell : Among the concrete things we hear from clients, they often say, 'I've gone to the police. I've tried to get some help and they've basically said, "We don't know that the person you are accusing necessarily sent that image, so because we cannot prove that we are not able to prosecute."' That goes back to the issue of technology and—

Senator BILYK: Resources—

Ms Snell : Yes, resources. We also hear from police that it is actually very expensive to prosecute these kinds of cases, so that is another issue as well.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You said that in some cases the victim does not know the material exists. This suggests that the taking of the image was not consensual.

Ms Loughman : Yes, and done in secret. For example, we have had clients report that cameras have been found in air-conditioning units in shared premises. They did not know the cameras were there.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Clearly, the people they are with are not close, loving friends.

Ms Snell : In those circumstances, it may be that they are separated under the one roof—they are separated, but are sharing the same premises. We have certainly had a case—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: They are not images of any act, but simply images of a person—not doing anything, but naked, I would suggest.

Ms Loughman : I think there is potential for the scenario to be images of a sexual act that may have been in the past that they did not know was being captured and that is then threatened to be distributed.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Using a term from a previous witness, there is a 'loving relationship' but one partner is taking a video and the other partner does not know about it. That does not seem like a very loving relationship to me.

Ms Loughman : Yes, indeed.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It is a question of how far the government can go in protecting people from themselves, but that is another issue.

Ms Johnstone : I think that these sorts of hypotheticals about whether people know about the material really highlights the importance of the relevant element of this offence being consent. It is not about there necessarily being harm, or even knowledge of the material. We are not questioning what the intention of the perpetrator is, but I think we need to take a very clear stance on the fact that whoever has taken the image, if it is then distributed without the subject's consent then that is a form of sexual violence. I think a lot of the submissions in this inquiry have given very clear case studies of that sort of behaviour taking place in violent relationships.

Ms Brown : In terms of the existence of the image: as we are considering whether or not a threat to do this type of behaviour will be within the legislation, the key point is that the threat can be made whether or not the image exists. For the subject of that image, there are myriad ways in which covert surveillance, covert photo taking or covert doctoring and photoshopping of an image can be carried out without someone's knowledge. We are not considering the status of people's relationships when we are looking at whether or not an offence has occurred.

Ms Milione : I would just add that some of these revenge porn case studies do not occur in instances of a relationship or where a relationship has previously existed. Sometimes women who are in a professional environment might be targeted by someone who just wants to take them down, so to speak. So it is not always in a relationship. It is more violence in an online space in a broad way rather than simply in an intimate partner relationship.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: But if you are not in a relationship how do the subject of the images happen?

Ms Brown : One of the things that we have recommended in our submission is the consideration of photoshopped images—for example, when a person's face is put on the body of another. We are also very well aware in this day and age that images of individuals are highly accessible through social media. A person may come into possession of an intimate image through another individual who had previously been in a relationship with someone. So there are a large number of various ways in which this can occur.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Are you saying that, in that case, someone has put the image on social media by consent but then some third party has come along and used that as a form of blackmail?

Ms Brown : I think 'blackmail' has a particular legal definition, and we are just focusing on that instant of consent. You would not necessarily need an image to be picked up from online. For example, if a visitor to your home picked up a photo of you and then glued a piece of that photo to another photo that they had taken from a magazine, that could be an example of the image. So the initial image would not need to have been taken with that person's consent.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You are all lawyers. Are you telling me that there is no law that prevents that currently—someone taking a photo of me and putting it with something else? So there is currently no legal redress?

Ms Brown : That is partly the issue and why we are so pleased to see that draft legislation has been introduced. Currently, Victoria, for example, does provide some legislation to cover the threat of distributing these types of images. The existing Criminal Code at the Commonwealth level provides an offence whereby it is not legal to distribute certain things through carriage services, which effectively means that you cannot disseminate certain images online. However, because this practice is specifically about gendered violence and the distribution of these private sexual images, there is no law that comprehensively covers this off.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I was saying to earlier witnesses that the only thing I have seen about this sort of thing in recent years—because I come from a pure state called Queensland—was two men who were parliamentarians who have been the victims. One has lost his seat and the other will next election, and a government hangs in balance over it all. Again, you are all lawyers here. If it is a relationship between two people, how do you prove or disprove consent? I think one of you was suggesting reversing the onus of proof to prove the absence of consent as a defence.

Ms Loughman : No. The onus of proving consent would be on the offender. The New South Wales DPP in its submission suggests that the consent needs to be express and written—

Ms Snell : Explicit.

Ms Loughman : which would make proving it more straightforward.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: That is the publishing. You are saying—again, using the terminology of the previous witness—that, before getting into a 'close, loving relationship that later breaks down', you stop and say, 'Let's sign a legal agreement here that at some stage in the future we will or will not'—

Mr Loughman : My understanding is that the consent should attach to both the filming and the distribution and that it be explicit.

Ms Johnstone : It is a good opportunity to endorse some of the other submissions that have been made in this regard. I note that the Safe Steps submission makes some excellent comments in relation to the elements of consent. In a similar way that these issues are faced when we look at other sexual offences, you would need to be looking at the consent in terms of whether it was given under duress and whether the person had the capacity to give consent. Obviously, if it were happening in a family violence context, that would be a factor. And, as was said, it is about the extent of the consent. Consenting to an image being taken and consenting to sending an image to your partner or to anybody else that you choose must be distinguished and limited in terms of it not being an automatic extension to consent to distribute the image. That is an important point that we would like to make. It is distinguishing between the consent that is given for the material as opposed to the further distribution.

Mr Loughman : We support that too and have covered those issues in our submission.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Again, I appreciate that all of you are from professions where you see a lot of this. I appreciate community standards, but is there any data around about what percentage of Australians would think that, first of all, making this image is cool and normal? Are there any statistics around? How wide is this practice of taking the images? Is it just a very small percentage of the population? Is it 50 per cent of the population? In the political sense that I talk to, most voters would think that, regardless of what happened, the fact that these people are doing that means we do not want to vote for them anyhow.

Senator BILYK: You need to talk to more young people!

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I acknowledge community standards have changed—perhaps not for the better, but that is another question. But one of the difficulties in dealing with this question is public opinion. It is sometimes an unsympathetic public opinion. Really I was just wondering whether you had any statistics or any anecdotal evidence. Perhaps with young people it is. I do not know; I am not young, unfortunately.

Mr Loughman : I do not know of any statistics about the extent to which in the Australian community people consent to the filming or videoing—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Not consent to but actually do the filming.

Mr Loughman : I do not think that is the core issue. I think the core issue is that then goes on to be used as a tool.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I appreciate that.

Mr Loughman : There are some statistics from a research project that Liz has at hand.

Ms Snell : The Domestic Violence Resource Centre down in Victoria did a national survey in 2015. That survey was with 546 DV workers. Of that number, 98 per cent reported that their clients had experienced facilitated stalking and abuse—not all necessarily were the non-consensual sharing of intimate images but technology facilitated stalking and abuse. I understand Anastasia Powell and Nicola Henry have done some research on this too. I am not sure if they are giving evidence later, but they have done a survey as well.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I can well accept that 98 per cent of domestic violence cases might involve something along the lines we are talking about. Fortuitously, domestic violence, I think—I might be wrong on this—is not a majority exercise for most Australians.

Ms Milione : I think what we have seen in recent years, with the discussion of family violence becoming more prevalent in the Australian community, is that the instances of family violence being reported were a lot less than the actual instances of the behaviour occurring. With this particular issue of revenge porn, we might find that, if the law leads the way on the discussion of this particular issue and of the ugly conduct that constitutes this behaviour, people will feel more comfortable to talk about it and victims will actually go to places like the Women's Legal Service in New South Wales and come forward about their issues. Currently, I think there is a lot of shame that is involved in being a victim of such conduct.

Ms Brown : To add to that, I think we understand the strong community support from individuals, organisations and parliamentarians for the combat of domestic violence and intimate partner violence in all its forms. Whilst our organisation, Victorian Women Lawyers, does not have the statistics you are referring to, we certainly know that intimate partner violence and sexual partner violence tends to be underreported and underprosecuted, so the numbers tend to be a lot higher than are reported.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I accept all that, and nobody endorses domestic violence. Everyone is opposed to domestic violence and we are doing whatever we can as a government to stop it. What I am saying is that I think, and I hope, that the incidence of domestic violence—whilst it is horrendous and increasing—still involves only a very, very small part of the Australian population. What I am saying is that most Australians do not involve themselves in domestic violence.

Ms Johnstone : I think it is a good point to remember, though, that there have been some very high profile instances of women in the online space being harassed in this way. I think it reflects a broader culture of gendered violence that is happening in our community. Although we agree that this form of harassment often occurs in the context of a relationship, the fact that it is also able to happen in the broader community and on the online space as a way of harassing women is possibly more prevalent.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I accept all that. You spoke about it not necessarily being an offence against the Commonwealth communication laws, because it can happen by leaving a photo at the doorstep—I think that was the example given. Do you think that newspapers who do not actually publish the photo, but do everything else, should also be held to account? Very often, in the cases I am talking about with politicians in Queensland, the image was never published, that I know of, but the reporting of it was such that you did not need an image to know what it was all about. How far do you go in protecting people's privacy?

Ms Loughman : I think journalistic freedom might be beyond our scope.

Ms Brown : We note that there are exceptions in the draft bill which relate to media and, as a shorthand, I would say journalistic freedom. We would certainly think that more consideration should be given to this and the types of exceptions that are allowed under other legislation in other states and territories and, potentially, under other Commonwealth laws. This is because, under the law, it can often be very, very difficult to distinguish what is in the public interest such that it should be an exception to the offence, where the dissemination of the image is made by a media organisation. That tends to be a grey area in the law and it is something that perhaps needs a little bit more focus. However, we do recognise that on occasion these types of events can bring to light incidents that are in the public interest.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: You have referred to a draft bill. We are not actually looking at a draft bill. What draft bill are you talking about?

Ms Milione : The draft bill that was proposed by Tim Watts and Terri Butler—the Criminal Code Amendment (Private Sexual Material) Bill 2015.

Senator BILYK: It is at the second reading stage in the House, Senator MacDonald, as I understand it.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: It is just that this committee is not looking at any particular bill. I was just wondering which piece of legislation you are referring to. It is fine that you do; no problem. I just wanted to be clear on that.

Senator BILYK: I did have one more question, but you may well have answered it in your answers to Senator MacDonald, so if you have anything else to add, please do so. I wanted to ask about how revenge porn is used with regard to domestic and family violence. Is it a common feature? How do perpetrators use it? If you want to add anything to what you said to Senator MacDonald's questions, please do.

Ms Loughman : Our experience at Women's Legal Services is that it is becoming a more common experience within a domestic violence relationship. We are certainly hearing from clients more often that this is happening, including threats to distribute. We have talked about and covered in our submission the importance of including a threat to distribute as well as the actual distribution. It is definitely, in our experience, a part of the domestic violence pattern.

Senator BILYK: It is a bit like a blackmail threat—it probably is a blackmail threat—to say to someone, 'If you don't come back to me and do whatever I want, I'll put this out there and everybody in the world will see it.'

Ms Loughman : Yes.

Ms Snell : There is also a reluctance to report to police because of that reason, too.

Senator BILYK: Because it is a threat and not an action?

Ms Snell : Because there is a threat to distribute it. That is also a tool of coercion and control.

Ms Johnstone : We would of course defer to our colleagues at the Women's Legal Services and their experiences with clients, and also point again to the excellent case studies provided in a number of the submission by other parties.

Senator BILYK: I thank you both for your submissions and your time.

CHAIR: That is all we have time for today. Thank you for coming and talking with us.