Chapter 1


On 15 March 2019, the perpetrator of the Christchurch terror attack livestreamed the attack on Facebook. The 17-minute video was re-shared across other social media platforms and viewed around 4000 times. The incident demonstrated the potential for livestreaming and other video sharing platforms to be exploited by extremists to amplify their message.1
The Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019 (AVM Act) was passed by the Parliament shortly after the attack to protect Australians from this type of material, prevent virality of abhorrent violent content, and reduce the exploitation of digital platforms by extremists and perpetrators.2
Given the recent incident, the Parliament passed the AVM bill within two days of its introduction. There was limited opportunity for industry consultation at the time; however, there was extensive consultation from the Attorney-General's Department conducted subsequently. The legislation also included a requirement that the Minister cause a review of the operation of the AVM Act to be conducted two years after its commencement.
In September 2021, the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, requested that the Joint Committee on Law Enforcement (the committee) inquire into and report on the operation of the AVM Act, and provided suggested terms of reference to this end. On 9 September 2021, the committee agreed to undertake the inquiry and adopted the terms of reference as suggested by the Minister.

Terms of reference

Pursuant to subsection 7(1) of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Act 2010, the committee agreed to inquire into and report on the operation and effectiveness of Subdivision H of Division 474 of the Schedule to the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), with particular reference to:
the effectiveness of the AVM Act in ensuring that persons who are internet service providers, or who provide content or hosting services, take timely action to remove or cease hosting abhorrent violent material when it can be accessed using their services; and/or,
the effectiveness of the AVM Act in reducing the incidence of misuse of online platforms by perpetrators of violence;
the appropriateness of the roles and responsibilities of the eSafety Commissioner and Australian Federal Police (AFP) under the AVM Act;
the appropriateness of the obligations placed on persons who are internet service providers, or who provide content or hosting services, under the AVM Act;
the definition of abhorrent violent material under the AVM Act; and,
any related matter.

Additional matters for potential consideration

At the time that the AVM Act was introduced, the Prime Minister requested the following matters be addressed as part of the statutory review:
enforcement of the provisions, particularly in respect of foreign companies who are located overseas and do not have subsidiary companies in Australia; and
the scope of the provisions, and whether there is a mechanism to capture but not criminalise material filmed by bystanders.3
These matters were also considered by the committee in the course of the inquiry.

Conduct of this inquiry

The committee alerted a range of stakeholders across government, industry, civil society, and academia to the inquiry, and invited for written submissions by 15 October 2021.
The committee received 15 written submissions, as listed at Appendix 1.
The committee held a public hearing on 17 November 2021 at Parliament House, Canberra (with members and the majority of witnesses participating via videoconference and teleconference). A list of witnesses who appeared at the hearing is at Appendix 2.
Additional information and responses to questions on notice were also received by the committee. These are listed at Appendix 3.
Copies of submissions, the hearing transcript, and additional information and questions on notice can be accessed from the committee’s website.


The committee thanks the individuals and organisations who contributed to the inquiry by taking the time to develop written submissions and participate in the public hearing.


The committee has used the term 'providers' and, where appropriate, 'platforms' to refer to the hosting, content, and internet service providers that are variously referred to throughout the evidence.

Report structure

Following this introductory chapter, this report consists of a 'Key Issues' chapter that explores some of the main issues raised during the inquiry. The chapter concludes with the committee's views and recommendations.

  • 1
    Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019 (the AVM Act), Explanatory Memorandum, p. 3; Department of Home Affairs, Submission 4, p. 2.
  • 2
    Department of Home Affairs, Submission 4, p. 2.
  • 3
    Attorney-General’s Department, Submission 3, p. 3.

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