The FamilyVoice Australian campaign for clean-feed internet
The campaign for clean-feed internet is a coordinated, forceful effort to persuade the federal government to regulate the internet and remove destructive hard-core pornography, one of the main sources of child trauma, violence against women, and family breakdown.
Michael Flood, the Australian academic – “Pornography is becoming a primary sex educator for boys and young men, displacing explanations from parents, formal instruction in schools, and even conversations with peers. However, what they learn from pornography websites is kinky practices which strip sex of intimacy, loving affection and human connection. And they learn that women are always ready for sex and have insatiable sexual appetites.”1
“Students at a Victorian state school have been left traumatised, and parents angry and shocked, after a seven-year-old student allegedly sexually abused classmates in the playground. Parents say they were kept in the dark about claims a grade one boy dragged female students into the toilets and forcibly removed their clothes, making them perform oral sex and kissing their genitals.”2
“A little (4-year-old) boy from South Australia whose behaviour is so sexualized he has to be chaperoned at all times in case he starts playing “sex games” with the other children. A child whose behaviour has been so twisted after his young mind viewed online pornography that he plays at anal and oral sex.”3
Forensic psychologist Dr Russell Pratt, who spent 12 years with the Centre Against Sexual Assault said that in the past, a child who was abusing their little brother or sister would have taken a long time to "get the mechanics right" and progress to penetrative sex acts.
"It used to be a cycle of offending, where there was a build up to this. Now, what we're seeing is that because of the impact of porn these kids are really getting the template to do this very quickly."4
More than half of all teenage girls are receiving uninvited sexually explicit material on the internet and say their boyfriends are pressuring them to send sexy photos online.
And they are pleading for a crackdown on online pornography they say is influencing men’s attitudes to women.5
What has FamilyVoice done?
The Australian campaign for ISP-level clean-feed internet began when FamilyVoice’s young adult arm Voice4Change began in 2012 – in response to one young university student’s damaging experience with porn.
In 2013, FamilyVoice Victoria Director, Peter Stevens saw several of his close friends succumb to porn addiction and leave ministry, spouses and the church. This had a profound effect on his passion to clean up the internet.
In December 2014, Voice4Change leaders visited Senators and MPs in Canberra to launch a push against the internet porn epidemic.
In January 2015, FamilyVoice expanded the work to pursue ‘UK model’ regulation – ISP level Clean-feed Internet by Default for Australia.
Two successful activists were brought from the UK to tour Australia. Events were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide.
A core group of influential leaders from many organisations were gathered to meet regularly in Canberra. It was decided to frame the campaign around protection of children – the most vulnerable. MPs and Senators were petitioned through personal visits to their offices.
During 2015 the organisation Porn Harms Kids was formed with a campaign website and logo. The federal government was urged to act. Terms of reference for a senate inquiry were written by FamilyVoice and on the 2nd December 2015 a small FamilyVoice team were present at Parliament House, Canberra when the inquiry was launched unanimously in the senate.
The Canberra leaders, led by FamilyVoice, organised a Symposium Bringing together academics, child development experts, educators, mental health professionals and advocates for children and young people in a multidisciplinary approach to examine the growing body of global evidence on the harmful impacts of early exposure to internet pornography, and explore public policy responses.
Held in February 2016, the Pornography and Harms to Children and Young People Symposium was the biggest event of its kind, ever, in the Southern hemisphere, and attracted a huge media response from around the world. The organisation Porn Harms Kids later changed its name to eChildhood.
What are we doing now?
Following a referral from the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston and the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher
MP, the federal government’s House of Represenatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs resolved on 10 September 2019 to conduct an inquiry into age verification for online pornography.
The inquiry findings, Protecting the Age of Innocence, recommended implementation of online age-verification in Australia. FamilyVoice directors visited most of the committee members to encourage action, offer help with further investigation or framing of legislation, and pressing for a formal government response.
Recently, Peter Stevens has connected with Joseph Calabro, advisor to Hon Attorney-General Christian Porter and Zoe Hawkins, advisor to Minister for Communications Hon Paul Fletcher. These helpful staff have agreed to keep FamilyVoice in touch with progress in implementing age-verification. In December 2020, Zoe wrote, “Hi Peter. The Government response to the report is being progressed internally. I can’t provide an exact timeline but hoping to have it publicly released as soon as possible. Warm regards, Zoe”
In 2021, FamilyVoice continues to pray, lead, and work aggressively towards national changes in the protection of children.
For more information, please contact campagin director Peter Stevens.