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Know the Law // Sexting

Being familiar with the law is an important part of keeping young people safe sexually.
Parents and their teenagers should know how the law applies to them.

Victoria’s age of consent to sexual interactions is 16. The age of consent for same-sex relationships is the same as it is for heterosexual relationships.

There are some legal defences if the person having consensual sex is younger than 16 and their partner is less than two years older than them and does not have a caring or supervising role with them.
If an adult has a sexual relationship with someone in their care who is 16 or 17, it’s also a crime, unless the adult reasonably believed the younger person was 18 or older.

People aged 18 and over can consent to sex with anyone aged 16 or over, unless they are supervising or caring for the younger person.

In Victoria, criminal laws apply to non-consensual sexual penetration, which includes anything that involves putting a penis into a vagina, anus or mouth (to any extent). It includes putting an object or a part of the body into a vagina or anus.

The law also applies to touching a person in a sexual way, like touching another person’s vagina, penis, anus or breasts. Rape occurs when someone sexually penetrates another person who has not consented, including where the person cannot consent because they are asleep, unconscious or so affected by alcohol or drugs that they cannot consent. Sexual assault occurs when someone touches another person sexually without their consent.


In late 2014, Victoria introduced Australia’s first “sexting” laws. These laws created offences targeting the distribution, or threats to distribute, intimate images of another person, and introduced exceptions to child pornography offences where young people engaging in non-exploitative “sexting” with their peers.

The Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2014 created two summary offences of “distribution of an intimate image” and “threat to distribute an intimate image” in circumstances contrary to community standards of acceptable conduct. These offences apply to young people and adults.

The distribution offence carries a penalty of up to two years in prison, and the new offence of threatening to distribute carries a penalty of up to one year
in prison.

New exceptions to child pornography offences will ensure that those aged under 18 are not inappropriately prosecuted or added to the sex offenders’ register for consensual, non-exploitative sexting with their peers. These exceptions do not apply in relation to images depicting a criminal offence such as a sexual assault.


Teenagers aged 16 or 17 can marry only if their parents or guardian agree, their partner is at least 18 and a court agrees the situation is special enough to allow the marriage – pregnancy may not be enough.
The court considers things like how long the couple has been together, their maturity, financial situation and how independent they are from their parents. If the court agrees, they must marry within three months.


Those under 18 may be able to get contraception, like the pill, from a doctor. The doctor must decide if the young person is mature enough to understand what they’re doing and use the contraception properly. Anyone can buy condoms at any age; most chemists and supermarkets sell them.


Girls need to know they have options and people they can talk to, such as a counsellor, nurse or doctor. They can choose to keep the baby, adopt it out or have an abortion. There is no legal minimum age for keeping a baby or having an abortion. If the mother is under 16, a loved one concerned about their welfare or the baby can call the Department of Human Services. Abortion is legal in Victoria up to 24 weeks and after 24 weeks in some rare circumstances.
Family Planning Victoria provides advice and support //www.fpv.org.au


A father is legally responsible for financially supporting their child. If they are at school and don’t earn any money, they may have to pay later when they can afford to. If proven to be the father, they must pay child support until the child is 18.
* Source Victoria Legal Aid. www.legalaid.vic.gov.au


Useful websites with legal information for young people:
Go to // www.lawstuff.org.au
www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au – follow the link to “Know Your Rights”
Get the free phone app // Below-the-belt sex, selfies, cyber-bullying at www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/below-the-belt

Cyberbully laws

Federal and state laws exist to protect potential victims and punish offenders.

Cyber-bullying is illegal, but working out what aspects are covered, and how, can be a challenge. Cyber-bullying and its related offences are covered by a range of state, territory and federal laws. Some jurisdictions have specific anti-bullying laws, while others use existing laws to prosecute cases. Regardless of whether jurisdiction has specific cyber-bullying laws, related behaviours such as stalking, making threats and physical assault are generally covered by existing state and territory legislation.


Passed in early 2015, the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act established a Children’s eSafety Commissioner, a complaints system for reporting cyber-bullying material aimed at an Australian child and a two-tiered system for rapid removal of cyber-bullying material from large social-media services.
In 2017 the role was expanded to include all Australians and under the revised Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015 is known as the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The independent statutory office within the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) administers cyber-bullying complaints, promotes online safety, co-ordinates relevant Commonwealth department, authority and agency activities, conducts and oversees educational and community awareness programs, makes grants and advises the Communications Minister.

A person can lodge a complaint to the commissioner if they have reported the material to the specific social-media site first and did not receive an outcome. The commissioner has the power to investigate complaints into cyber-bullying and conduct investigations as he or she sees fit.
Among other things, the legislation provides for:
• Setting out the eSafety Commissioner’s functions and powers;
• A complaints system for cyber-bullying material;
• A two-tiered scheme for the rapid removal from large social-media services of cyber-bullying material;
• A mechanism for the commissioner to give end-user notices to require a person who posts cyber-bullying material to remove the material, refrain from posting further material or apologise for posting the material; and
• Enforcement mechanisms.

Unbullyable by Sue Anderson can be purchased online.
Australia’s Youth-Driven Movement Against Bullying // projectrockit.com.au/about or call 0435 150 280.
Body image movie Embrace //www.youtube.com/watch?v=__2AayArYfs
Reach out // au.reachout.com


Many forms of cyber abuse could be considered illegal under state or federal legislation. For example, under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 (‘the Act’) it is an offence to menace, harass or cause offence, using a ‘carriage service’.

It is also an offence under the Act to use a carriage service to make threats to kill or cause serious harm to a person, regardless of whether the person receiving the threat actually fears that the threat would be carried out.

These provisions could capture instances of menacing, harassing or offensive conduct and threats carried out using landlines, mobile phones (e.g. MMS, SMS) and the internet, including emails and social media. For example, using a mobile phone to repeatedly send offensive images to someone.

Most Australian states and territories also have laws covering stalking, blackmail, criminal defamation and various unlawful uses of technology. A number of jurisdictions have also passed laws creating offences for the threat to distribute, or distribution, of intimate images (image-based abuse).
Office of the eSafety Commissioner // esafety.gov.au


•Collect evidence
• Report to the platform/site in which it occurred
• If not removed within 24 hours, then report to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner
More info // www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying-complaints/i-want-to-report-cyberbullying


• Due to the internet’s borderless nature, unwanted contact, harassment or cyber-bullying can occur from anywhere.
• Schools and parents should become involved in the first instance, as they would with most “offline” bullying.
• Schools should have a cyber-bullying policy with sanctions for students who bully others during or outside school hours.
• Serious cyber-bullying or stalking cases can be reported to the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s ReportCyber service (cyber.gov.au / cyber.gov.au/report).
• Through initiatives such as ThinkUKnow, the AFP works with state and territory police forces, Neighbourhood Watch Australasia and the private sector to educate about staying safe online.
• The AFP’s High Tech Crime Operations Crime Prevention team presents at schools, junior sporting clubs and community groups about online risks and staying safe.
More info // www.thinkuknow.org.au



Cybercrime can be quickly and easily reported online.
The Australian Cyber Security Centre allows secure online reporting of online crimes through its ReportCyber service.
The Commonwealth, state and territory governments policing initiative also helps people to recognise and avoid common cybercrimes.
The ACSC educates and advises about common cybercrime, such as hacking, online scams, online fraud, identity theft and attacks on computer systems.

It also covers cyber-bullying, which can be reported if the actions are intended to make the victim feel fearful, uncomfortable, offended or harassed. Those
being physically stalked or concerned about their safety should report to the local police immediately.

Cyber-bullying or stalking involves someone engaging in offensive, menacing or harassing behaviour using technology. It can happen to people at any age,
time and often anonymously.

Examples include:
• Posting hurtful messages, images or videos online;
• Repeatedly sending unwanted messages online;
• Sending abusive texts and emails;
• Excluding or intimidating others online;
• Creating fake social-networking profiles or websites that are hurtful;
• Nasty online gossip and chat; and
• Any other form of digital communication that is discriminatory, intimidating, intended to cause hurt or make someone fear for their safety.
More info // www.cyber.gov.au


Pull out quote available.
Those being physically stalked or concerned about their safety should report to the local police immediately.

Gambling, Remove Temptation

Profile // Dr. Wayne Warburton

Dr. Wayne Warburton says statistics suggest that in most high school classrooms in Australia, one teenager would have a gambling problem.

‘‘Studies of Australian youth gambling show 3 to 4 per cent of teenagers have a problem – in adults it’s around 0.5 to 1 per cent of the population. Teenagers may be more susceptible to problem gambling because the adolescent brain is still ‘under construction’, but it’s not an obvious problem. Most parents wouldn’t know their teenager was having difficulties because teenagers tend to be very reluctant to admit to gambling – it’s illegal under the age of 18 and teenagers don’t want to get into trouble either for gambling or for the ways they may have obtained the money to gamble. They may also feel ashamed and not want their social network to know just how many people they have borrowed from.

“For many teenagers, a gambling problem begins online with an activity that isn’t strictly gambling but gets them in the mindset to gamble. Many video games have a gambling component, and other games that simulate gambling (such as online ‘slot machines’) are commonly advertised on many social media sites.

“Online gambling games are programmed to make you win – it’s almost impossible to lose. They groom you to believe you are going to win a lot of money gambling, that you are skilled at it, and such beliefs can promote gambling behaviour.

“Typically several of the top 10 iPhone gaming apps are casino-style games. You can spend as much as you want, but because they don’t involve winning money, they’re not ‘gambling’ so are unregulated. We know that kids access these sites and apps, and also play online video games that have a gambling component. Many games have gambling-like devices to progress, or skins that can be gambled online, or loot boxes that can be purchased. Interestingly, loot boxes were recently shown scientifically to have most of the same characteristics as gambling. Research also suggests that making in-app purchases for gambling-like activities is predictive of developing a gambling problem later.

“Parents need to know about gambling apps and simulated gambling and to realise that for some kids this will be a precursor to developing a gambling problem. And remember, kids can spend lots of money on these games before progressing to actual gambling. It’s big money and a big industry.

“For some teenagers, gambling becomes a bigger part of their life and school becomes less and less important. Gambling becomes more important than friendships and family, and teenagers often start to lie about money and what they are doing with their time. Teenagers usually don’t have access to large amounts of money so they may steal from parents, buy and sell things illegally, or use a stolen credit card.

“On a practical level, parents can keep internet-connected devices out of bedrooms and in public areas of their home. Use internet blocking devices that block pop-ups and invitations to gamble from coming up on screen. You can also use internet monitoring software, although your teenager won’t think that’s very cool!

“Because children/teenagers are reluctant to talk about gambling, even when they’re in financial difficulty and are scared that their gambling is out of control, parents need to know how to talk with a teenager about it.

“Keep the conversation open. Talk about the traps but don’t be judgmental. Explain that playing gambling-like games online and making in-app purchases increases the risk of developing a gambling problem. Educate them about the inflated win-rate of such games and the low chances of success in real gambling – the odds of winning a poker machine jackpot are 9.7 million to
one. They have a greater chance of being struck by lightning (‘just’ 1.6 million to one). Help kids understand that these online games and apps are designed to suck them in – and they do a
really good job.“


• GamBlock
• Betfilter

• Qustodio
• Norton Family
• Net Nanny
• Surfie (good for mobiles)

Psychologist Jo Lamble shares some tips for starting a conversation:
• Make use of stories
• Learn how to listen so your children will talk
• Choose the right time
• Use some humor
• Tailor your message to their interests
• Leave them wanting more

Australian Council on Children and the Media app reviews with clearly labeled gambling information // childrenandmedia.org.au/app-reviews/
KidBet // kidbet.com.au
Gambler’s Help Youthline (24/7) // 1800 262 376
Gambling Help Online // www.gamblinghelponline.org.au
Parent resources // www.responsiblegambling.vic.gov.au

// Dr. Wayne Warburton is an Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology at Macquarie University.

What You Need to Know About Gaming

Did you know 97 per cent of Australian homes with children have computer games?

A few years ago, a Russian teenager addicted to online gaming died after developing suspected deep-vein thrombosis. The 17-year-old had spent 22 consecutive days playing popular online game Defense of the Ancients.

He collapsed and died after developing a thrombosis, like those that passengers can suffer on long-haul flights. In the 18 months leading up to his death, investigators say the teenager spent about 6.5 hours a day playing online. During the days preceding his death, he had broken away from his computer screen only to eat and nap.

While this case may seem extreme, online games present another potential challenge for teenagers and parents, who need to become familiar with what their child is playing online, and with whom they are playing.

A 2018 report from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner found eight in 10 young people aged eight to 17 played games online in the 12 months to June 2017. The same report found online multiplayer gaming is very popular, with six in 10 young people playing these games.

Many online games include content and themes unsuitable for certain age groups. So games often come with age recommendations or ratings, similar to movie or film classifications. For example, Call of Duty (CoD) has an MA 15+ rating and contains strong themes and violence. Clash of Clans, a multiplayer game, is recommended for players over the age of 13.

Many games allow players to communicate through forums, chat and messaging services. In the interests of player safety, Activision, creators of CoD, recommend young people never share their password or give players they meet online their name, address, email address or school details. Computers and tablets should also have up-to-date security software to protect against viruses.

Supercell, owner of Clash of Clans, does not pre-screen or monitor all user content and recommends that players never share their login data or log into their account on someone else’s device.
Parents should also be aware that some games allow players to purchase points, different versions of the game and game-related merchandise. The Office of the eSafety Commissioner found around 34 per cent of eight to 17-year-olds made an in-game purchase in the 12 months to June 2017. So find out whether your child is using money to play online.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner lists a number of games and has comprehensive information on game content, who can play, how to protect personal information, how to report cyber-bullying or abuse and how to block your child spending money while playing online.

Go to // www.esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/games-apps-and-social-networking // www.videogames.org.au // www.instituteofgames.com
Watch // www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4472277.htm


• Withdrawn
• Nightmares
• Loss of interest
• Online friends vs real friends
•Anger about not being able to play


This game has been one of the most popular video games for children and young people in recent times.
The free version, Fortnite: Battle Royale, operates across Windows and Mac, Xbox and PlayStation. However, while the game itself is free, players can
purchase outfits, weapons and other accessories to boost their chances of survival.
Fortnite pits players against other players around the world and the aim is to be the last person standing on a sometimes violent and hostile island
inhabited by monsters and enemy figures.
On average, each game can last around 20 minutes, assuming your character doesn’t get killed before that.
The Australian Council on Children and the Media says Fortnite is not recommended for children 12 years and under. Parental guidance is recommended
for children aged 13 to 17.



76% of children under 18 play video games.
60% of parents play online games with their children in the same room.
81% of parents are familiar with controls on online games.
84% of parents say they have discussed playing safely online with their children.
48% of parents say they play online games with their children as a way of spending time with them.
77% of parents say they have rules about how long children can play games.
76% of parents have rules about games their child can play.

Digital Australia Report 2018 by Interactive Games & Entertainment Association


About TikTok


AGE 13

TikTok is described as “the world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos”. Using smartphones, people capture and share moments of their everyday life. In 2018, TikTok was one of the world’s most downloaded apps.

TikTok produces a Community Well-Being series with information on how users can make the most of various safety and privacy tools. Some of the key tools are being able to keep your list of liked videos private by going to Privacy and Settings – click on the three dots in the top right corner. Then go to “Who Can See the Videos I’ve Liked” and choose between All or Me.

Users can keep the videos they make themselves private by choosing “Private” on the video posting page where it asks, “Who Can View This Video”.
By default, initially TikTok accounts are public – so you need to actively switch to a private account. Parents can get advice on safety for children on TikTok at support.tiktok.com

Signs Someone is Being Cyber-Bullied

  • Abnormal withdrawal from social activities, friends and/or family
  • Sudden lack of interest in using their mobile phone, computer or other devices
  • Disinterest or avoidance in attending school, sports, or other recreational activities
  • Nervous or jumpy when a text message or email is received
  • Extreme sleeping behaviour (sleeping a lot more or staying awake all night)
  • Self-harming behaviours
  • Moodiness and abnormal changes in behaviour

*Source: ‘Rosie’, a Dugdale Trust for Women & Girls national harm prevention initiative. www.rosie.org.au

Jess Chooses Life

Jess Chooses Life – A Play About Overcoming Bullying and Mental Health

Parent Guides is very proud and excited to be involved in delivering the play ‘Jess Chooses Life’ – to be performed Wednesday 19 Feb 2020, at 7 pm, at McKinnon Secondary College, Melbourne. 

Admission is free, and the play will be accompanied by a meaningful discussion alongside mental health professionals.

Use the following link to book your FREE tickets: https://www.trybooking.com/BHQJH

Get FREE Tickets

Some words from Angus (Gus) Clelland, Chief Executive Officer, Mental Health Victoria:

“In 2018 there were 3,046 deaths by suicide, and 458 of these were young people under 25 years of age.

In the face of this national tragedy, both the Federal Government and the Victorian Government have made mental health and suicide prevention top priorities.

Community, family and friends are fundamentally important when it comes to suicide prevention.

With this in mind, Mental Health Victoria – the peak body for mental health organisations – is very pleased to commend the collaboration of Health Play, Parent Guides and PoPsy to produce Jess Chooses Life, a sensitive and thought-provoking play that examines the pressures faced by young people and how parents can broach challenging topics such as mental health and suicide.

The format of the production – which includes audience discussion supported by mental health professionals – is highly engaging and thought-provoking, while being sensitive and supportive to audience members who may have lived experience.”

View the video testimonials from the previous play: https://vimeo.com/327637872/a0f46a1fc9

Parent Guides and Health Play

Parent Guides & HealthPlay

Parent Guides are a proud supporter of HealthPlay, a contemporary theatre company based in Melbourne.

In 2019, Parent Guides partnered with Healthy Play to deliver a successful play about mental health and teenage bullying. You can read more about the successful event here.

With their unique and humorous approach to health issues, they are writing and performing plays to educate and entertain. You can learn more about their four mental health plays for 2020 and previous plays below, and visit their website for bookings.

Suicide – It’s Time We Talked

See the Play on the 29th of March. At Sacred Heart College, Retreat Road, Newtown – Geelong. Register and Get Your Free Tickets!


It’s time to talk about suicide:

A new and engaging production that combines a play about suicide with a panel of mental health experts will connect and bring people together in local communities.

Read more

Tech Addiction Taking its Toll

Group of young people using their phones.

ABC TV journalist Emma Alberici speaks to social psychology expert and Associate Professor of Marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business Adam Alter and Professor at the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong Katina Michael about how apps are tailor-made to encourage addiction.

EMMA ALBERICI: I’m joined now from New York by Professor and author Adam Alter, he’s the author of Irresistible, the book examining our growing addiction to technology. Katina Michael is here with me in the studio, she’s Professor at the School of Computing and Information Technology at the University of Wollongong, specialising in online addiction. … Adam, how addicted are we to technology? Well, you heard a bit about it earlier on. We are greatly addicted. There was a massive study that was run in 2011, so that’s now some years ago, showing that about 41 per cent of the adult population had some form of behavioural addiction and the suggestion is that now that is probably up around 50 per cent. And Katina, is there a particular demographic or sex that is more vulnerable than another?

KATINA MICHAEL: I think our studies have shown that anyone over 14 and under 55 are as prone, for instance, to smartphone addiction. So we are all copying each other and it looks [like] normalised behaviour and given our parents are using more, children are using more and they are copying and mimicking.

EM: What constitutes addictive technology Adam, assuming it doesn’t include making calls on your phone?

AA: No that’s right, most of what goes on, on screens, so it’s the screen component of the phone that’s so difficult for us to resist. And that’s because screens can deliver all sorts of interesting rewards to us, that draw us in and that keep us engaged over time. So things like games, email, social media, texting is a big one as well. So those are just some of them. There is also shopping. Fitness devices. It’s a pretty big range of behaviours.

EM: And what do you think are the long-term consequences, negative clearly of this addictive behaviour? I mean drug addiction and gambling addictions, we know what those obvious consequences and impacts are. Katina what is the problem with being on our phone so much?

Read more