Submission to Revenge Porn / Sharing of intimate images without consent discussion paper
October 2016: This year the Attorney General called for submissions regarding ‘revenge porn’ – also known as the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. Measures regarding revenge porn would likely have an impact on young people who sext or share intimate images.
Youth Action response highlighted some core principles that required consideration:
- the ability to develop a healthy sexuality as an essential component of an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing
- Sharing intimate images as increasingly a part of young people’s self-expression and sexual agency
- The right to information, to access sexual health services, and to freedom of expression
- Juvenile justice principles
- gaps and legal inconsistencies in the form of protection and address for young people who sext as well as those who have their images shared without their consent
- the need to avoid unnecessary criminalisation of young people
- the need for quick redress, that doesn’t rely on a young person navigating the court and justice systems
- the need for education on respectful relationships, ethics and consent, rather than an approach that promotes simply refraining from sexting
A healthy sexuality is an essential component of a person’s mental and physical wellbeing. Young people should have the freedom to experience their individual sexual development at their own pace and in a way that is clearly led by independent and informed thinking.
However, the sexualisation of young people within the media, as well as their exposure to sexualised images aimed at adult audiences, has been an ongoing issue of public debate in Australia, the US, and the UK throughout the past decade. The Australia Institute’s 2006 Corporate Paedophilia report, for example, roundly condemned what the authors considered to be the growing phenomenon of sexualisation, and explored several examples of what they deemed to be the inappropriately sexual depiction of children in mainstream Australian media. The following year, an American Psychological Association task force responded to expressions of public concern regarding the sexualisation of girls. In the UK, a commissioned review of the sexualisation of young people focused on the possible effects of sexualised media on violence against women and girls. Alternative perspectives, however, have opposed seemingly blanket condemnation of sexualisation and have called for more rigorous, evidence-based academic research into the issue.
Sexualisation is contested, and the debate has uncovered a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and avenues of research on a number of possible impacts of sexualisation on young people, As the peak organisation for young people and youth services in NSW, Youth Action is pleased to submit to this inquiry, and congratulate the NSW Government for its focus on the health and wellbeing of young people, including their sexual health. In submitting to the inquiry, Youth Action has responded to the following terms of reference:
- The exposure of children and young people in NSW to sexualised images and content in public places, electronic, print and social media and marketing;
- The impact on children and young people of growing up in a sexualised culture;
- Adequacy of current measures at state and federal level to regulate sexualised imagery in electronic, print and social media and marketing, and effectiveness of self-regulation measures;
- Measures to assist parents in fulfilling their responsibility to protect and educate children;
- Measures to educate children and young people and assist them in navigating the contemporary cultural environment;
- Possible measures that the Children’s Advocate can take to assist children and young people to navigate the cultural environment successfully
 E Rush & A La Nauze, ‘Corporate paedophilia: sexualisation of children in Australia’, The Australia Institute, Discussion Paper No. 90, 2006.
 American Psychological Association (APA), ‘Report of the APA task force on the sexualisation of girls’, 2007, accessed via http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf
 L Papadopoulos, ‘Sexualisation of young people review’, Home Office, UK, 2010, Accessed via: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.homeoffice.gov.uk/documents/sexualisation-of-young-people.pdf
 C Lumby & K Albury, ‘Too much? Too young? The sexualisation of children debate in Australia’, Media International Australia, No. 135, May 2010, pp. 141-152; A McKee, ‘Sexualisation of children: what the research shows’, submission to the National Classification Scheme Review, 2011, Accessed via: https://www.alrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/ci_721_a_mckee.pdf; C Smith & F Attwood, ‘Lamenting sexualisation: research, rhetoric, and the story of young people’s ‘sexualisation’ in the UK Home Office review’, Sex Education, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2011, pp. 327-337.
December 2012: Sexual health for young people is an area where health and social welfare services must work in tandem in order to provide the necessary supports to ensure good health.
Sexual health services in New South Wales are significantly below the standards of other Australian States. Victoria has comprehensive online information provided by their Government that informs young people on how to access these services. Western Australia has a school-based system that is highly regarded as being an effective way to communicate sexual health issues with young people. The NSW Ministry of Health website, however, provides no direction to Sexual Health Services within the State, nor links sites that are informative for young people in the same way other states do. Due to the high internet usage by young people, a poor site is a major barrier to increasing awareness around sexual health that needs to be addressed. Addressing this issue contributes to the development of a sexual health service that is user friendly to young people.