Dating apps and domestic violence: what did the summit decide? | Explainer – 9News

The safety of dating apps was at the forefront of a national panel discussion as Australia tries to deal with the rise of domestic violence and prevent it from happening on the platforms.

The damning domestic violence statistics speak for themselves in Australia, on average one woman a week is murdered by a former or current partner.

One in six women has suffered sexual or physical violence from a current partner, while for men it is one in 16.

A national panel discussed how dating apps can prevent domestic violence. (9 News)

More than three million Australians use dating apps and now authorities are figuring out how to stop domestic violence perpetrators from infiltrating the platforms.

Why was the round table held?

As domestic violence becomes more common in Australia along with the popularity of dating apps, both state and federal governments are facing a growing problem of how to stop it.

It led to calls for reforms to dating apps and protections for dating app users from potential partners with a history of domestic violence.

Danielle Finlay-Jones was murdered by a man she met on a dating app. (Supplied)

Representatives from the dating app met survivors, government officials and domestic violence services at the summit in Sydney.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said there was no overnight solution to preventing the perpetration of violence on dating apps, but today was a “first step”.

Domestic violence dating app summitRepresentatives from dating apps, government and support groups met today. (9 News)

There were three key takeaways from the roundtable, Rowland said.

Prevention of exploitation of online dating services by perpetratorsSupport users who suffer damageEmpower users with safe online dating practices

Tinder had previously released details about the dating safety guidance available on the platform that all users must agree to in order to download the app.

Grindr, Bumble and Match revealed the artificial intelligence the platforms use to detect harmful language.

Work is also underway to put background checks on the platforms.

Some apps have also recently introduced the ability to retrieve past messages when users have blocked someone so that it can be used as evidence.

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Rowland said there will be no law to address the perpetration of violence through dating apps, but assured that the onus will not fall on victim-survivors to address it.

He added that changes need to be made to the way complaints are handled in the apps.

“When a dating app user flags a problem. Complaints shouldn’t be just another data point,” he said.

“We need the industry to improve its action, transparency and accountability in how it responds to consumer complaints.”

So what happens from today?

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland at the dating app summit.Communications Minister Michelle Rowland at the dating app summit. (9 News)

Rowland plans to pass on the outcome of the roundtable to the Commonwealth and state and territory attorneys-general.

The perspectives of victim-survivors will continue to inform decisions made by government.

The Department of Communications and the eSafety Commissioner will work to implement “transparency and change” regulatory mechanisms on dating app platforms.

What do the experts think should be done?

In the wake of today’s summit, domestic violence workers say educational initiatives need to be implemented on dating app platforms and that technology should be used better.

Shaan Ross-Smith, who has a long history of working with victims of domestic violence, told the educational prompts in the app’s terms and conditions should be implemented when people sign up .

“There’s a responsibility on dating apps to do what they can where they can,” he said.

“Dating apps could give perpetrators information about what’s not cool to do, like ‘you know this constitutes domestic violence or this is a toxic interaction.’

Dating appsExperts say you need to use educational resources. (Getty)

He added that digital nudges should also be implemented.

“There needs to be campaigns within dating apps like a digital push every time someone opens it to say ‘hey, remember this is what a safe interaction looks like,'” he said.

Or even pop-up relationship advice or notifications of what toxic, unhealthy, abusive interactions look like or first date tips on how to set safe boundaries.

But Ross-Smith should not put the onus to protect the victim, but the perpetrators and platforms should be held accountable.

“I think education is the biggest and best thing we can do,” he said

FullStop Australia’s director of clinical and client services Tara Hunter told apps need to step up and make better use of technology to verify and identify perpetrators of violence and harm and those with a history penalties

“But we recognize that we cannot create a false sense of security, but there needs to be an integrated approach,” he said.

He echoed Ross-Smith’s desire for educational resources, but said apps need to make them accessible and appropriate for all backgrounds.

“It’s not one size fits all,” he said

There are calls for criminals to be banned from dating apps after Sydney teacher Danielle Finlay-Jones was allegedly murdered by a man she met online.Domestic violence organizations want the technology to be used to track criminal records. (9 News)

Hunter added that apps also need to be transparent about complaint processes.

“If you make a report, the app should let you know what happens to that information and have the courtesy to let you know the outcome of the report,” he said.

But Hunter said it’s not just about dating apps, it’s about a national approach to domestic violence.

Hunter wants some of the ideas discussed at the roundtable to be implemented quickly, such as technology that tracks domestic violence records, and others are proposed for further consultation for both apps and the government framework wider

If you or someone you know is affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

Help is available from the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.

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