Cyberbullying in Australia: An Overview

Cyberbullying in Australia: An Overview

There is a lot of cyberbullying taking place in Australia. In fact, it’s estimated that cyberbullying among Australian children has risen by 27% over the past year. If you’re worried about your child being cyberbullied or cyber-harassed, then read this article to find out what you can do. We’ll provide an overview of the various types of cyberbullying and how they are dealt with under law in Australia. 

What is Cyberbullying? 

Cyberbullying is cyber harassment and bullying that happens through the internet, phone or other electronic devices. It can take many forms including sending threatening messages, sharing embarrassing photos of someone else without their permission (known as “revenge porn”), posting false information about a person, or leaving hurtful text messages or comments on websites. 

In cyberbullying, there is a power imbalance that the bully has over their victim. The cyberbully can easily send hurtful messages to their targeted person without being seen and they control what information appears on social media profiles of others. Cyberbullies also use technology as another tool for harassment which makes it difficult for people who are cyberbullied to escape cyber harassment. 

The lack of physical proximity that a cyberbully has with their victim often enables them to engage in much more severe forms of abuse than bullies who live near the victim. Cyberbullies are also less likely to risk being caught by law enforcement officials and therefore may be able to operate unchecked for longer periods of time. 

Cyberbullying is cybercrime and cyberbullies are committing crimes because they use technology to harass others, which makes it illegal under Australian law.  

The Impact of Cyberbullying 

The impact of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can cause a lot of distress for the person who is cyber-harassed. They may be upset, embarrassed or feel powerless as they are subjected to cyber harassment and bullying. 

Cyberbullies typically use technology in an attempt to hide their identity which means that cyber victims don’t know who’s stalking them online, monitoring their online activity, or cyber-bullying them. These social media crimes can also be difficult to detect because cyber harassment is not physical and often takes place on social networking sites where cyberbullies have the ability to hide their identity (e.g., by posting from an anonymous account). 

Cyberbullies may threaten their victims in order to tarnish another person’s reputation and cyber harassment can be very traumatizing. 

The impacts of cyberbullying are not limited to cyber victims themselves as cyberbullies may also use social media platforms to harass others by making negative comments about them or sharing misleading information in order to bully a person into self-harming behaviour (e.g., suicide).  

Cyberbullying in Australia 

Cyberbullying is a serious issue in Australia, with the statistics showing that approximately 4% of Australian children aged 12-17 have had difficulties due to cyberbullying. 

Cyberbullying can be seen as one of many growing issues among Australian youth today. As more and more adolescents are being bullied by peers both online or offline, it becomes increasingly difficult for adults to keep up when they’re also experiencing similar harassment at work themselves 

Australia is one of the few countries with cyberbullying laws that go beyond just protecting children and instead provide legal protections for all members of society.  

Cyberbullying Laws 

Cyberbullying Laws

Australia is a country that has been grappling with how to best address cyberbullying. Laws have changed over the last decade and are still evolving as new forms of technology emerge. 

Australia is doing its part to stop cyberbullying in the digital age. The country passed legislation that punishes online harassers with up to three years of jail time for a first offence and five years if they commit repeat offences.  

Cyberbullies cannot hide behind anonymity or fake profiles in Australia, where those who bully others online face real-world consequences if caught breaking Australian laws on harassment, threats, and defamation. 

The Australian government has committed to investing in cyber safety measures, including cyber safety education programs for students aged 12 – 18 years old, as well as improved awareness campaigns across Australia.  

How Can we Stop Cyberbullying?

To foster a safe and inclusive community, it is imperative to take proactive measures to address and prevent cyberbullying. Below are some effective strategies to combat cyberbullying and promote a culture of respect and empathy within the community.

Promoting Awareness and Education

Raising awareness about the harmful impacts of cyberbullying is crucial. Educational programs and workshops can be organized to inform community members, particularly children and teenagers, about the consequences of engaging in cyberbullying behaviors. By promoting empathy, digital etiquette, and responsible online behavior, individuals can develop a better understanding of the negative effects cyberbullying has on victims and the community as a whole.

Strengthening Policies and Legislation

Community leaders, schools, and policymakers play a pivotal role in combating cyberbullying. It is essential to establish comprehensive policies and legislation that address cyberbullying explicitly. These measures can outline consequences for offenders, provide guidelines for reporting incidents, and offer support for victims. By implementing and enforcing strict policies, the community sends a clear message that cyberbullying will not be tolerated.

Fostering Safe Online Space

Creating safe online spaces is crucial for preventing cyberbullying. Social media platforms, websites, and online communities should enforce strict guidelines and moderation policies to ensure respectful and inclusive interactions. Implementing reporting systems and employing trained moderators who can promptly address instances of cyberbullying can help maintain a safer digital environment.

Encouraging Open Communication

Encouraging open communication

Open lines of communication within the community can play a pivotal role in preventing cyberbullying. Encouraging individuals to speak up about incidents they witness or experience is vital. Schools, community organizations, and online platforms can facilitate reporting mechanisms that allow victims and bystanders to report cyberbullying safely and anonymously. Providing support and resources for those affected by cyberbullying is equally important to promote healing and resilience.

Engaging Parents and Guardians

Involving parents and guardians in addressing cyberbullying is essential. Educational programs can be organized to educate parents about the signs of cyberbullying, ways to support their children, and strategies for maintaining a safe digital environment at home. By fostering partnerships between schools, community organizations, and families, a collective effort can be made to prevent and address cyberbullying effectively.


Stopping cyberbullying requires a concerted effort from the entire community. By promoting awareness, strengthening policies, fostering safe online spaces, encouraging open communication, and engaging parents and guardians, communities can work together to create an environment where cyberbullying is not tolerated. By nurturing empathy, respect, and responsible digital behavior, we can build a community that values the well-being and safety of its members both online and offline.

This article is of a general nature and is intended for information only. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you require further information, advice or assistance for your specific circumstance, please contact us at Bouchier Khan Lawyers.