Legislation and Policy Solutions form one component of four within our eChildhood Public Health Approach. Legislation and policy collectively underpin the operations of every small-to-medium-size business, government and non-government department, nonprofit, company, large corporation, state and nation. When an entity functions smoothly, it is pointless to invest time and resources into adjusting legislation and policy. However, when entities are making losses (of any measure), one of the first places for scrutiny would be to understand ‘what’ the cost is; followed by review of the mechanism that facilitates this loss. In the instance of pornography, the loss is first and foremost to our children, and the cost burdens (mental, physical, emotional, relational, social and financial) are rapidly accumulating. The mechanism that facilitates this ongoing burden is failed legislation and policy.
Whenever an entity has direct or indirect influence with children and young people, there exists opportunities to strengthen responses and adjust the mechanism of legislation and policy. This includes (but is not limited to) child and youth services, educational sectors, mental health and allied health professions, government and non-government sectors; and sporting and community groups.
Areas we have identified as relevant to each entity for considered change and review include:
Legislation & Regulation in terms of child protection must adapt as the online world evolves. Governments and peak bodies have a role to play to ensure legislation and regulation are relevant and flexible. Age Verification is one legislative measure that places the responsibility of the content regulation in the correct hands—the pornography industry—and also reflects the expectations that Australian communities have in the offline environment. Regulation to ensure the provision of high-quality and data-secure services by third-party suppliers of Age Verification means that children remain safe and adults remain free to make informed choices. Other legislation and regulation responses may include those that apply to technology platforms.
National Frameworks focused on child protection and wellbeing, are key to ensuring responses to pornography harms are embedded in actions mobilised under each of the public health solutions. For instance, National Frameworks may include Safety by Design within Digital Solutions; a comprehensive nationally mandated framework within Education Solutions; and nationwide practice guidelines within Therapeutic Solutions. It may also include embedding responses to pornography harms in existing frameworks such as the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children (beyond 2020), the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, and the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations.
Best Practice Policy Frameworks. Currently, the harms of pornography are not included in most policies because it is a “new issue” that has not been addressed on a national level. To ensure applicable policies are updated, specific attention needs to be given to pornography as a child protection issue. Best Practice Policy Frameworks ensure key stakeholders such as educators, therapeutic providers, allied health professions and organisations that serve children and youth, have responses in place to respond to pornography harms—thereby enabling the mobilisation of training and education to ensure that all who work with minors are equipped in the most effective way possible.
Justice Measures refer to how pornography harms are handled within the legal system. For instance, if children and young people are harmed by pornography while in the care of schools or child/youth organisations due to negligence, failure to block harmful content or follow best practice policies, justice measures would explore what legal recourse is available.
Governance Measures may include addressing the disparities between Federal and State laws and providing consistency in the ways that pornography harms are prevented, responded to and managed.
Reporting Processes embedded into key stakeholder environments that encounter pornography impacts is an essential aspect of monitoring existing harms. Reporting processes also provide an opportunity to measure the success of implemented solutions to improve safety for children and young people. For instance, sexual health clinics and specialists, child protection services, mental health and social work providers, police, hospitals, and sexual assault clinics are all services that observe the physical, psychological and emotional impacts of those impacted by pornography harms. As detailed on page 10 of this report, a pornography impact lens is lacking for front-line problems. Currently, no data collection or reporting processes exist to monitor the harms of pornography on children and young people. Reporting Processes will aid in correctly targeted support for therapeutic, restorative, psycho-educational and/or allied health professional follow-up to meet the lived reality of porn impacts on children and young people’s lives.
To enable the development and implementation of legislative and policy changes, stakeholders within relevant sectors will be consulted directly or via the eChildhood Protection Coalition. Representatives of each sector are best positioned to collaboratively contribute to a robust response to the harms of pornography on children and young people. Consultative changes are to be developed and implemented through the knowledge of a Public Health Approach and informed by Critical Porn Analysis—an educational response to the researched harms of pornography as a public health crisis.
Legislation and Policy Solutions form one component of four within our eChildhood Public Health Approach. Detailed in the 2019 eChildhood Report, KIDS AND PORNOGRAPHY IN AUSTRALIA: Mobilising a Public Health Response, the eChildhood Public Health Approach presents a positive framework to be enacted in consultation with key stakeholders and supporters.
To see Legislation and Policy Solutions implemented in Australia, we invite you to join eChildhood to build a connected community.
ORGANISATIONS: Please join the eChildhood Protection Coalition.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS: Please join the movement and take a stand.
We also invite you to consider how you can support our work financially. All gifts are tax-deductible.
Every child in Australia deserves a porn-free childhood