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USQ Assists Senate Revenge Porn Inquiry

University of Southern (USQ) Queensland researcher Dr Jenny Ostini will be giving evidence this week to the Federal Government’s first Senate Inquiry into the phenomenon of revenge porn.

Along with USQ colleague Dr Susan Hopkins, Dr Ostini is a recognised expert in the area of technology violence in intimate-partner relationships, and said she hopes the government’s inquiry will shed some light into a dark area.

“People can lose their jobs, and have relationships with friends and family destroyed through revenge porn. As a society, we need to look at our laws and our services, and see if they can adequately address what’s happening,” Dr Ostini said.

“I would like to urge the government to fund some research into getting a handle on the scope and the prevalence of revenge porn because we know it’s out there, but we know so little about it.”

Revenge porn typically involves the non-consensual sharing of inappropriate images and recordings taken or accessed during a relationship being made available on the internet, including social media. Sometimes it involves images taken entirely without the owner’s knowledge or consent.

It can also involve the posting of inaccurate or harmful information, including people’s contact details, sexual preferences and activities, and may have links to physical as well as virtual violence.

USQ's Dr Jenny Ostini (far left) is working on digital safety strategies for communities and is pictured with (from left) Queensland Police officers Wendy O'Neill and Nadine Webster, Ipswich City Council Mayoress Janet Pisasale and USQ's Dr Susan Hopkins
USQ’s Dr Jenny Ostini (far left) is working on digital safety strategies for communities and is pictured with (from left) Queensland Police officers Wendy O’Neill and Nadine Webster, Ipswich City Council Mayoress Janet Pisasale and USQ’s Dr Susan Hopkins

Dr Ostini was invited to join the inquiry’s academic panel by the office of Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus, which became aware of Dr Ostini and Dr Hopkins’ research into technology violence in relationships through an article they jointly published on The Conversation website.

Dr Ostini said education about the risks of being either the victim or the perpetrator of revenge porn need to be spelled out to children as well as adults. “Our work within the community has identified that there are some 10-year-olds out there getting involved in sharing inappropriate images, and they need to know that even if they are under 16, they can get a criminal record for taking these images of themselves or other people.”

Dr Ostini will be participating in the inquiry on Thursday (February 18), when Dr Hopkins will concurrently be presenting at the Respectful Relationships: Education as Violence Prevention forum being hosted by True (formerly Family Planning Queensland) in Brisbane.

“We need to be thinking and talking about it because, no matter what you might think, nothing is private online, and we need to understand the role technology plays in contemporary relationships.”

Dr Ostini was last year named as one of the inaugural Advance Queensland Community Digital Champions for her work in supporting community groups to use technology to fight domestic violence.

The Senate Inquiry into revenge porn is due to lodge its report on February 25.

Submitted by:
Liz Wells, email: [email protected]
Rhianwen Whitney, email: [email protected]
University of Southern Queensland

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