Media Release: Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today slammed the Senate report into the sexualisation of children in the contemporary media environment saying it had failed to put forward the fundamental reforms needed to address community demands for better protection of children.

ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said the report, tabled today, tinkered around the edges but failed to effectively pave the way for a real difference to be made despite the ongoing public outcry that prompted the report.

“The Senate committee had a real chance to initiate constructive change which would help end a situation where children are continually confronted with a toxic and sexualised media culture which research has shown can have a harmful effect on their development,” Mr Wallace said.

“Instead of dealing with the need for greater government regulation which gives priority to the interests of children, they have been snowed by the very industry they were inquiring into – effectively leaving the issue in their hands.”

Mr Wallace said that, instead of proposing a more regulatory approach, the committee had - in the words of the report - chosen to leave the onus “on broadcasters, publishers, advertisers, retailers and manufacturers to address community concerns”.

“These bodies have a compelling imperative to put their commercial benefit above community concerns – which is why much of the problem has arisen in the first place. The committee’s response is at best a naïve one, but more worryingly is a slap in the face for the many community members who have joined in the outcry on this issue – with mums and dads talking about the difficulties they have raising their children in the current toxic media environment.

“It is the second time in a week that the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communication and the Arts has delivered such weak recommendations on issues of community concern. It makes one question the worth of these inquiries.”

Mr Wallace said that some of the committee’s recommendations would be welcome if they were directed to happen rather than being left to the media industry’s discretion. These include the recommendations dealing with billboard advertising, music videos, and magazine covers, as well as the commissioning of a major longitudinal study into the issue. However, with these recommendations left to the mercy of self-regulation, people can have little certainty that they will be put into practice.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan