Australia

Dating app roundtable: Scale of sexual violence ‘hard to understand’ as government holds meeting

Key Point
  • Communications Minister Michel Rowland says sexual violence in the community is “devastatingly common”.
  • The minister hosts a roundtable discussion with Social Services Minister Amanda Richworth and dating app executives.
  • One in three Australians have been sexually assaulted by someone they met on a dating app.
Women trying to find love online should be protected immediately as dating apps, governments and police join forces to end sexual violence.
Wednesday’s roundtable is intended to address this issue head-on.
Social Services Minister Amanda Richworth, who is hosting a meeting with Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, said they would discuss measures that could prevent abusive behavior, such as requiring background checks.
“Someone may not have been convicted of a crime, but they could be acting inappropriately or using inappropriate comments,” she told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“How can we detect crime and abuse early, before they happen?”

Rishworth said he hopes companies will start designing safeguards within their apps to ensure users are protected from harassment.
“What I would like to see is the spirit of our national plan to end violence against women and children that is embedded in the design of some of these apps,” she said.
“Another area where we really need to improve is ensuring that people who have experienced violence have a say in how companies respond.”
Rowland says sexual violence in the community is “devastatingly common”.
“We know that women are more likely than men to be harmed online and are particularly likely to experience sexual, violent and threatening abuse.
“It may be difficult to comprehend the scale of this damage.”

Sexual violence includes online abuse such as revenge porn, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, threats, and behavioral control.

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant. sauce: AAP / Mick Tsikas

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said dating apps need to take more responsibility for rooting out bad behavior.

Tinder has launched a dating safety guide in Australia to prevent violence against women and educate users, with one in three saying they are not fully aware of the app’s safety features
Governments are working to make it easier to identify and hold perpetrators accountable, and to provide better support to those who have been abused.
“The issue of sexual violence against adults is complicated by the fact that it can involve a wide range of behaviors both online and offline,” Rowland said at the conference.
“When considering these harms, we cannot do so in isolation. The harms committed by users of online dating are part of the wider landscape of harms in the offline world.

“These harms reflect broader cultural patterns.”

One in three people tell the Australian Institute of Crime that they have been sexually assaulted, coerced or subjected to revenge porn by someone they met on a dating app.
Every 10 days in Australia, a woman dies from her partner’s hand.
“We are focused on changing these attitudes and behaviors so that everyone can live in a community where everyone is treated equally and with respect,” Richworth said.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or In case of emergency, please call 000.

Dating app roundtable: Scale of sexual violence ‘hard to understand’ as government holds meeting

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