Minister Rishworth interviewed on the Today show


Topic: National Roundtable on Online Dating Safety

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Welcome back. There are growing concerns about the safety of online dating. So how do we fix it? Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth will be part of a roundtable discussion today and she joins us now. Minister, good morning to you. The Federal Government is pledging to protect the three million users of online dating apps. You've got a number of the big organisations, the main players, in town today. Everyone wants to fix it. Can you?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: I think we can take some steps today to look at what are some of the responses that can keep users, particularly women, safe online. We know that there is growing use of apps, but it does come with risk and that can be abuse online, violence online, but it also can go into the real world after you've met someone online. I think there are some huge opportunities in talking with these tech companies about how we build in much more safety to these online apps.

SARAH ABO, HOST: And according to the Australian Institute of Criminology almost three quarters of users are subjected to sexual violence online. Are the big companies doing enough? Do they need to pull their weight a bit more here?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think there is more that can be done. Particularly with technology, not only comes the risk on these online dating apps, but there is also opportunities for solution. Last year we announced our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children and there's some really important principles that can be taken from that plan and put into the online space. And that's some of the things that I want to have a conversation about today. But one of the really important messages – and I think this is a really important message – is that when we were developing our National Plan, there was a clear message from those that were victims survivors that had experienced violence, not to make all the responsibility theirs. So there's an opportunity, I think, in talking with these technology companies about how they do the work of prevention and early intervention before violence actually occurs.

KARL STEFANOVIC: So basically what you're saying is, and this I would have thought this was there, but it's not - background checks those kind of safety measures, stopping offenders from using the unmatched feature to hide from victims. You're also talking about anything that shows arrests, convictions and sex offender registry information. That probably needs to happen urgently, right?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: A lot of these things we need to discuss about how we implement them and get them done, but I think there is some work to be also done within these apps on consent education. What does it mean to be in a respectful relationship? So I think absolutely there's the protections that need to be put in place, but we need to be talking with users about what consent means and what does respectful relationships mean.

KARL STEFANOVIC: And yeah, look, it's a big job and hopefully it'll go right today and hopefully those heavy hitters are going to be moving in the right direction to protect our women. Good on you. Thanks so much for being with us.

SARAH ABO: Thanks, Amanda.