Two years after Labor first introduced a Private Member’s Bill to criminalise image-based abuse online, the Enhancing Online Safety (Non-consensual Sharing of Intimate Images) Bill 2017 has passed its first hurdle in the Senate.

It is essential that Parliament sends a clear and specific message that the sharing of intimate images without consent is unacceptable.

While the civil penalties regime proposed by the government is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go far enough in recognising the seriousness of image-based abuse.

Labor’s clear and long-standing position has been that the non-consensual sharing of intimate images should be a criminal offence.

Labor’s Private Member’s Bill to criminalise private sexual material, commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’, was first introduced in 2015.

Labor took a policy to the 2016 Federal Election to criminalise ‘revenge porn’ within the first 100 days of being elected.

In October 2016, Labor re-introduced its Private Member’s Bill in Parliament. Disappointingly, it was removed from the Notice Paper in May 2017 because the Turnbull Government refused to call it on for debate.

Today the Senate acted on what Labor and the COAG Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence Against Women and Their Children recognised long ago – that the non-consensual sharing of intimate images is a serious form of abuse that should be criminalised.

In an encouraging first step, the Senate amended the government’s Bill in accordance with Labor’s Bill so that specific criminal and civil offences operate at Commonwealth level.

The use of technology to share intimate images without consent is a serious offence which can cause significant and ongoing harm. It is abuse.

Research shows that 4 out of 5 Australians believe it should be a crime to share sexual or nude images without permission. Labor is pleased to see these overdue measures supported by the Senate.

All Australians deserve an online environment that is free from abuse.

It is now up to the House of Representatives to reflect the weight of evidence and pass the legislation as amended as a matter of priority.