Status update of initiatives in Australia to address pornography harms to children

Status update of initiatives in Australia to address pornography harms to children

This information provides a brief overview of the current digital landscape and links to find further information.

  1. At the end of 2015/early 2016, a Senate Inquiry was held into the Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet. With 417 submissions, the inquiry lapsed due to the committee ceasing to exist, resulting from a change in government. Rather than a complete inquiry being carried out, a report was handed to the government from the Senate on 23 November 2016.
  2. On 20 April 2017 the Australian Government responded to the Senate References Committee on Environment and Communications report: Harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the Internet.
  3. eChildhood (then known as Porn Harms Kids), produced an extensive update published 25 September 2017 - Porn Harms Kids Report: Protecting our kids from online pornography harms is everyone’s business.
    1. We investigated and reviewed the government recommendations and approaches proposed in their response to the senate inquiry. We noted that the government's strategies and recommendations did not comprehensively address the harms, or adequately propose robust preventative measures to protect our children.
    2. The main body of review and subsequent findings in this report focused on three key areas: current legislation and policy, digital, and education approaches. We believe these are foundational areas that must receive equal attention in order to effectively respond to this public health crisis that has remained in the shadows for too long. 
    3. Since the release of our report, we have updated our public health approach to include therapeutic solutions.
  4. One of the government recommendations was for the Office of the eSafety Commissioner to steer the Online Safety Consultative Working Group (OSCWG) towards making decisions in the best interests of Australia’s children and young people. Deputy Chair (previously Chair) of eChildhood Liz Walker, was invited to present at the first convening on 25 July 2017 where many of the items contained within the Porn Harms Kids Report were introduced. On release, the Porn Harms Kids Report was handed to the OSCWG.
  5. The OSCWG was to report to the Government on strategies to inform an effective policy response to ensure best efforts to protect children from potential harm. The OSCWG provided the Department of Communications with recommendations at the end of 2018 - these recommendations were not made public.
  6. Reviews of the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 and the Online Content Scheme were open for consultation till June 2018. This review was to ensure the legislation underpinning the eSafety Commissioner and the Online Content Scheme remain fit-for-purpose and will continue to support Australians to confidently take advantage of the benefits of being connected.
  7. On 15 February 2019, the Report of the Statutory Review of the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 and the Review of Schedules 5 and 7 to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Online Content Scheme) was made public (also referred to as the Briggs Report).
  8. As an outcome from this report the draft Online Safety Charter became available, which was open for consultation till 5 April 2019. The draft charter sets out what the Government expects from digital and social media platforms, including the removal of offensive content, stricter controls on accounts, the earlier identification of illegal and harmful content, and accountability and transparency, including regular complaint and compliance reporting.
  9. To date (23 April 2019), a commitment has not been made by the Australian Government to implement age-verification.


eChildhood History

On February 9 2016, Collective Shout hosted the highly successful Pornography and Harms to Children and Young People Symposium in Sydney, Australia. This initiative sparked the formalisation of Porn Harms Kids which gained charity status on January 16, 2017. Porn Harms Kids navigated a transition period of name change to eChildhood throughout February/March 2018.

The principal activity of eChildhood as a health promotion charity is to ‘promote the prevention or control’ of disease(s). This term is used in a broad sense and includes mental, emotional and physical health impacts. Prevention of access to pornography is a vital component of reducing the incidence of harms upon children and young people.

eChildhood is managed by a passionate, dedicated and collaborative volunteer board. Since inception, the charity produced two key documents that have contributed to the importance of having this National conversation - the Statement of Research Relating to Pornography Harms to Children, and The Porn Harms Kids Report: Protecting our kids from online pornography harms is everyone’s business. The charity has also formed strong relationships with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner; other community organisations, researchers and key stakeholders; and is positioned to contribute child safety perspectives related to pornography harms to both The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, and The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022.

eChildhood has appointed Board Member Tamara Newlands as Executive Director to carry out the day to day operations and management of the charity. In this role Tamara builds key relationships, nationally and internationally, and champions the work of eChildhood to ensure the ongoing viability of the charity. In consultation and with support of the volunteer Board Members and Expert Advisors, Tamara is initiating a well-considered strategy involving Digital, Legislative, Education and Therapeutic Solutions, aimed at improving children and young people’s mental and physical health outcomes, decreasing vulnerabilities to exploitation related to pornography harms, and increasing child protection measures.

Learn more about us and consider supporting our work through making a tax-deductible gift.


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