The prolific number of sexual assaults stemming from dating apps will be spotlighted this week, with advocates and the government coming together to work on reform.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government would work with states and territories to take whatever action is needed.
“Dating apps would be well on notice that the Albanese government intends to not only take this very seriously but take whatever action is necessary,” she told ABC radio.
Rowland said “incentive regulation” could be used to change behaviour, but further reforms, such as changes to the law, have not been ruled out.
“If the situation does not improve, then certainly it is within the scope of government to make sure we do everything we can to keep Australians safe online.”
Asked whether dating apps were doing enough to stamp out criminal behaviour, the minister said while some had their own pre-requisites, they weren’t consistent across platforms.
“It’s important here to hear particularly from the police side of things where there have been complaints,” she said.
Rowland will convene the online dating safety roundtable on Wednesday after calls for reform grew louder last month when a New South Wales man was charged with the murder of a woman he met online.
Police allege he had a long history of domestic violence.
The case sparked calls for reforms to stop people with a known violent background from registering on dating apps.
Three-quarters of Australian Institute of Criminology survey respondents had been victims of some form of online sexual violence in the past five years.
One-third experienced in-person abuse from someone they met on an app, with 27 percent of those reporting incidents of sexual assault or coercion, such as drink spiking.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant, state and territory ministers and representatives from dating apps including Match, Bumble and Grindr will all attend.
Law enforcement experts have also been invited.
The roundtable will cover preventing the exploitation of online dating services, supporting users who experience harm and efforts to improve online dating safety.
This includes reporting processes, support for abuse victims and policies to hold perpetrators accountable, with more than 3.1 million Australians using dating apps in 2021.
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