An online petition calling for the creation of “Charlotte’s Law” against online bullying has been launched following the death of Charlotte Dawson.
The petition, launched on the Change.org website by Dawson’s friend Em Mastronardi, had received 8000 signatures by Monday morning.
The Charlotte’s Law — Tougher Cyber Bullying Legislation petition calls on the federal and state governments to take a tougher stance on cyber bullying and for greater accountability from social media companies.
Mastronardi says the model and TV personality fought hard against cyber bullying and had dreamed of eradicating negativity from social media.
She says Dawson’s death shouldn’t be in vain and the petition is a way of continuing the battle.
“We ask that the Australian Government and the state governments enforce the existing anti-bullying and harassment laws, and take action against those who violate them.
“We ask that Social Media companies take a more active role in the prevention of cyber bullying, and take more responsibility in monitoring posts of `hate’.
“We ask that together we unite to change the cyber bullying platform,” Mastronardi says on the website
Dawson, 47, was outspoken about her depression and in 2012 publicly waged war on so-called Twitter trolls.
The New Zealand-born star eventually took her own life and was found dead in her Woolloomooloo apartment in Sydney on Saturday morning.
Parliamentary secretary for communications Paul Fletcher said Dawson’s death was “tragic” but the government considered child victims of cyber-bullying its top priority.
“In our society there are a range of areas where we put in place extra protections for children in recognition of the fact that they are not necessarily able to make judgments or protect themselves in the same way that adults are,” he said.
“There’s always a dividing line to be drawn at some point.”
But former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson, who is leading a charge for national laws to tackle all forms of bullying, said new laws should protect all online users.
“I don’t think we can stop at children,” he said.
“There’s a bit of the old concept that, ‘Oh yes, we were all bullied at school, and we got over it’ …
“This is a much more serious problem than we’ve ever accepted.”
Dawson’s sister Vicky, who lives in New Zealand, will reportedly arrive in Australia on Monday to make funeral arrangements.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or follow @LifelineAust @OntheLineAus @kidshelp @beyondblue @headspace_aus @ReachOut_AUS on Twitter.