Until a young cafe worker in Melbourne committed suicide after being abused, spat upon, having fish oil poured over her and after being tormented following a failed suicide attempt, Australian governments have been reluctant to criminalise workplace and cyber bullying.
Now, in an Australian first, the Victorian Government is introducing the Crimes Amendment (Bullying) Bill, 2011 into Parliament to make workplace and cyber bullying a crime.
The new legislation will provide penalties of up to 10 years in jail for serious bullying that could cause mental or physical harm.
The internet is a wonderful tool that has been a positive force that has even overthrown dictators, but it is also a place where innocent peoples’ lives and reputations can be ruined. Governments around the world are struggling to balance the right of free speech against the damage that disturbed people can do to the innocent over the Internet and at work.
The Victorian Government is taking the first step to shift the balance towards the individual here in Australia.