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We're the independent peak body for organisations, practitioners and individuals promoting gender equity in Victoria.

Gender Equity Victoria launches research report into gendered online harassment in Victorian politics “It’s personal, not just political”

Today, GEN VIC launches a research report on gendered online harassment in Victorian politics. Titled, “It’s personal, not just political”, the report sheds light on the culture of online misogyny, gendered and intersectional violence in Victoria’s political system.

The report draws on interview data from 24 current and former political workers to better understand the impacts of gendered online abuse on people working in politics. The report makes seven recommendations for how political workplaces can better protect women and gender diverse people online.

GEN VIC’s analysis revealed three themes:

  1. Gendered cyberhate is considered normal in politics
  2. Gendered cyberhate is damaging democracy
  3. Political workplaces need to take responsibility for the online wellbeing of their staff.

Over half of the participants said they didn’t think online abuse was taken seriously enough, either by their workplace or by society generally. Workplaces need to take effective action when workers are exposed to online abuse. Interviewees’ experiences show that the problem of online abuse and harassment is rife across all levels of politics.

The recommendations emphasise that responding to and preventing online abuse is everyone’s responsibility, workplace online safety training is vital, complaints and support mechanisms need to be reformed and perpetrators must be held accountable. The report also makes specific recommendations about changes to political workplace practices to ensure online safety is embedded into practices.

GEN VIC’s Acting CEO, Helen Keleher said, “This report is an important part of ensuring more diverse representation in our political systems. The intersectional nature of gendered online abuse is damaging to our democracy because it discourages people from putting themselves forward to participate in our democratic processes. Social and regulatory changes, such as those suggested in this report, are needed to ensure our political systems better reflect Australian society. I encourage all political parties and political workplaces to take note of the recommendations and take steps to implement them.”

The report has been endorsed by GEN VIC’s Special Advisor, former ALP Senator Trish Crossin:

“It is clear that violence against female and gender diverse politicians and their staff has moved into the anonymity of the internet, where perpetrators believe that somehow typing a few words diminishes their accountability.”

“This report has highlighted that political workplaces can no longer ignore the increase and impact of online abuse. Policy and law makers need to take immediate action to ensure this behaviour is totally unacceptable and has consequences that can be punishable.”

“Everyone, including politicians, has an entitlement to a safe workplace, and that includes their physical and online environment. Policies and laws should ensure that this protection deters and deals with all forms of harassment and violence,” said Trish Crossin.


Read the full report here.

Media enquiries:

Caitlin McGrane

Manager, Policy and Online Safety, GEN VIC

0448 816 750