What are the Australian Defamation acts, and why do we have them?

The Defamation Act 2005 was created “to enact provisions to promote uniform laws of defamation in Australia and ensure that the law of defamation does not place unreasonable limits on freedom of expression and, in particular, on the publication and discussion of matters of public interest and importance.” The act was also created “to provide effective and fair remedies for persons whose reputations are harmed by the publication of defamatory matter to promote speedy and non-litigious methods of resolving disputes about the publication of defamatory matter.”

 

We may not notice it; but we are surrounded by examples of defamation on a daily basis. When reading the newspaper you will see unfavourable reports on subjects such as doping in sport, political turmoil and social media issues. An example of defamation relating to these topics could be the imputation that a high profile athlete is doping, a politician having questionable intentions and a social media page spreading hate speech. While the levels of defamation vary based upon the views of the writer, all of these examples have the potential to be classified as defamatory.

 

An even better example of defamation is the social media interaction of Celebrities, Journalists and general members of the public. Recently Charlotte Dawson was told to “kill herself” and other similar statements. Whilst these statements may not be directly defamatory, it goes to show the lack of concern user’s show when posting comments. Social media defamation and harassment has reached such high levels that some high schools are begging to implement a blanket social media ban for all enrolled students. This comes after many complaints by parents that their kids are being bullied and harassed via sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

The big question is ‘Who is out there to police such breaches in the law?’

 

 

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