New app lays down the law on selfies, cyberbullying and sexting during Schoolies

New app lays down the law on selfies, cyberbullying and sexting during Schoolies

Monday, 18 November 2013

Our new Below the Belt app
Our new Below the Belt app

A new, free mobile phone app will help young people understand the law about three major issues facing them: sexting, cyberbullying and the age of consent.

'Below the Belt: Sex, Selfies and Cyberbullying' provides legal information about sexting, cyberbullying and the age of consent laws in every Australian state and territory .

It will be launched at Fitzroy High School today (November 18) by Clem Newton-Brown MP, who chaired the Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee Inquiry into Sexting, and Victoria Legal Aid’s Director of Civil Justice, Access and Equity Kristen Hilton.

Ms Hilton said the app would be a useful resource for the thousands of young people around Australia currently involved in Schoolies celebrations.

Developed by Victoria Legal Aid, with contributions from interstate legal aid commissions and community legal centres, the app gives young people clear, accurate legal information that can be downloaded free to Android mobile phones.

Below the Belt contains fun, interactive tools to help young people learn about the law and support their friends.

Users can send an e-postcard to their friends to ward off unwanted requests to send someone a selfie.

The app also provides links to support agencies if young people need more help.

Ms Hilton said providing accurate legal information to young people and encouraging them to get help early helps them stay out of trouble with the law.

Mr Newton-Brown said the Parliamentary Law Reform Committee earlier this year examined the issues around sexting.

‘Groundbreaking recommendations were made to help protect our kids,’ he said.‘ I am very pleased that this free mobile application is now available to inform parents and young kids of issues surrounding sexting, cyberbullying and the age of consent.’

Ms Hilton said the inquiry found many young people do not understand the legal consequences of sexting and there needs to be more education about this topic.

Under current laws, young people who are caught receiving or sending ‘selfies’ can be charged with child pornography offences and placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

While the inquiry has recommended changes to this law, Ms Hilton said young people need to be aware of the law as it stands now.

‘The app explains the legal consequences of consensual sexting and also what to do if someone distributes an image of them without permission or sends them an unwanted ‘sext’,’ she said.

‘Apps are a great way to educate young people using technology they love – enabling them to get the information any time they need it from their phones.’

Project contributors included Legal Aid ACT, Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission, Legal Aid Western Australia, Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania and the Youth Advocacy Centre, Queensland. Project consultants included YouthLaw, South Eastern Centre against Sexual Assault, Youthworx Media, Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and Maribyrnong Youth Services.

More information

If you have a media enquiry about Below the Belt, contact Kerrie Soraghan (03) 9269 0660 or 0422 966 513.

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