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With the popularity of social media sites and apps like Tinder in Australia, never has it been easier to communicate with a wider range of people, whether it is family, friends, or even strangers – all of whom are just one click away. However, the ease in which individuals are able to contact a person in an increasingly wired world, has also on the flipside, made it easier for a person with less than savoury intentions to also contact someone. Therefore, what laws are there in relation to cyberstalking in Australia?
We can’t talk about cyber stalking without looking at the stalking laws in general because they go hand in hand with one another.
Firstly, all jurisdictions within Australia have provisions in place making stalking an offence and we can use s 21A(2) of Victoria’s Crimes Act 1958 as our statutory example, which states, that a person commits a stalking offence if they engage in some of the following types of conduct:
Additionally, under the provisions of s 21A(3) of Victoria’s Act, the offender commits a stalking offence if they hold the intention to cause mental or physical harm, or to arouse apprehension and fear in the victim for their safety if:
Victorian case law has also further spelled out the elements of the offence, affirming the statutory provisions in Thomas v Campbell (2003) 9 VR 136 in which Nettle J held:
“[T]he actus reus of stalking is engaging in a course of conduct that includes acting in a way that could reasonably be expected to arouse apprehension or fear in the victim for his safety or that of any other person, where the course of conduct engaged in actually has that effect… The mens rea for stalking is an intention to cause physical or mental harm or of arousing apprehension or fear in the victim for the victim’s own safety or that of any other person.”
His Honour went on to outline the four elements that the offence consists of which are:
In conclusion, cyber stalking isn’t an offence within itself, but rather, forms part of the overall statutory provisions associated with stalking. However with that being said, technology is still a wonderful thing.