The Hodgman majority Liberal Government’s important legislative reform that criminalises acts of serious bullying, including serious cyberbullying, namely the Criminal Code Amendment (Bullying) Bill 2019, passed the House of Assembly today. This Bill seeks to protect victims of such serious crimes, particularly children and young people.
This Bill expands the existing crime of stalking to address serious bullying behaviour, which includes targeting those who use the internet with the intention to cause serious physical or mental harm, including self-harm.
The Hodgman majority Liberal Government believes our legislation strikes the right balance, ensuring we protect Tasmanians from serious cases of bullying, while also being careful that we do not unnecessarily bring people, especially young people, before the courts.
That’s why there will be a safeguard that the decision to prosecute will always be a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Special consideration is also already given to persons under the age of 18 years in guidelines issued by the DPP and there are various other legislative protections for children.
Bullying has lasting effects on individuals and their families, and serious bullying can result in tragic personal consequences for victims, such as long term mental health impacts, self-harm and psychological damage.
We know bullying can occur in almost any social environment and has become a significant issue given rapidly changing technology and the widespread use of social media.
This legislation is just one part of a whole-of-government and whole-of-community approach to combating serious bullying, as well as law reform, education, community awareness and restorative justice initiatives have an important role to play in addressing the problem of bullying.
Despite Michelle O’Byrne’s attempt at politicising our important legislative reform, it is the Hodgman majority Government sending a clear message that serious bullying behaviour, including cyberbullying, is unacceptable and must be stopped.